The Labour Party’s hopes of running Dudley Council received a setback this week after the town’s mayor said he would vote with the ‘controlling group’ on any vote of no confidence.
As mayor, Conservative Cllr Alan Taylor has the vital casting vote used to break a deadlock when parties are tied.
Last week’s defection of Norton ward councillor, Mike Attwood, from the Tories, opened up the prospect of Labour taking control with 36 seats to the Conservatives’ 35.
Labour leader Pete Lowe said he had been told by the mayor he would use his casting vote to back the largest group in the council chamber.
But the mayor has denied this, and said: “He has mistaken me, he said that I would support the largest group but I said that, as mayor, I would support the controlling group.”
Asked if that he meant would be supporting the Conservatives he refused to be drawn, adding: “My quote is, I will be supporting the controlling group.”
Cllr Attwood’s defection is the latest move in the political swings and roundabouts which have seen councillors switch from one party to another since May’s election, leaving control on a knife edge.
In May, the Conservatives took control of the council with 35 seats with the support of the independent, Heath Rogers, and UKIP Councillor Kerry Lewis – who later joined the Tories.
Cllr Attwood’s switch to Labour now makes it the single biggest party on the authority.
His move promoted Labour to table a motion vote of no confidence for October’s full council meeting which, if won, would see Cllr Lowe become leader of the council.