Conservatives gain control of Dudley Council after deal struck
The Conservatives have taken full control of Dudley Council after the last remaining UKIP councillor in the borough jumped ship to secure the party the narrowest of majorities.
The Tories and Labour were left locked on 35 seats each following dramatic local elections in Dudley.
It had set up the prospect of a crucial vote this week to decide which party would control the council.
But it emerged yesterday that UKIP councillor Kerry Lewis has joined the Conservatives to give them the vital extra seat needed for the all-important majority.
It means the Tories now control the council outright and will no longer have to rely on other parties to get votes passed.
The group has run a minority administration for the past year, with the support of UKIP, who have now been completely wiped out in Dudley following a disastrous election performance.
The right-wing party now has no councillors in the Black Country.
Jubilant council leader Patrick Harley said the majority meant they could be confident in getting through changes planned for the borough.
He said: “It makes us more confident we can get our agenda through.
“I was confident on the night two weeks ago that we would take control but it makes the whole process of trying to get things through, and the change we need, easier.”
After the UKIP surge at the start of the decade, two-party politics has returned in Dudley, with independent Heather Rogers now the only councillor not aligned to the Conservatives or Labour.
The leader insisted Councillor Lewis was offered ‘no incentives’ to make the switch to the Tories.
Councillor Harley said: “The reality is people who work on their own rarely get things done. If you have got the mechanics of a political party behind you it is easier to get things done.”
Deputy leader David Vickers said: “This will give the people of the Dudley borough some stability.”
UKIP group leader Paul Brothwood said he could understand Councillor Lewis’s decision and blamed the national party leader.
“By not supporting local councillors Gerard Batten has accelerated the downfall of UKIP,” he said.