Yvonne Davies has been chosen as the leader of Sandwell Council in a tightly fought contest where the margin of victory was just two votes.
Cllr Davies beat Ann Shackleton by 35 to 33 at the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Labour group last night (Monday).
Cllr Davies, speaking after the meeting, said her first step would be to take stock, talk to people and take advice, adding: “I hope that everyone recognises that we have spent past years on the wrong side of doing the right thing and actually we need to move forward with integrity, honesty, transparency and openness, and political infighting benefits no-one.”
On the same day, as Labour members gathered for the crunch election they were told councillors Julie Webb and Bill Cherrington had been stripped of their membership only hours before .
Earlier both councillors told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they would attend, only to say shortly afterwards that they had both received emails telling them there were no longer party members.
Their expulsions came after Cllr Caroline White was thrown out of the party last week.
All three are alleged to have supported an opposition candidate during the recent local elections.
In an unusual step the leadership election was overseen by the party’s powerful executive committee after complaints about the conduct of a previous AGM.
Cllr Davis insisted the meeting was run correctly.
Speaking of the expulsions she said: “Certainly this was nothing to do with me whatsoever and things go on.
“If you support an independent candidate it is automatic grounds for expulsion and every Labour party member knows that.
“I don’t know if they did or they didn’t because I haven’t actually looked at to be honest.”
A second meeting of the Labour group will now take place before Cllr Davies is formally chosen as the political leader of the authority at the next full council meeting on May 21.