FORMER Dudley Council leader Councillor Les Jones has returned to Dudley’s Conservative group to provide a "strong local opposition".

Cllr Jones stepped down as group leader last year before quitting altogether, after in-fighting within the group. He remained on the council as an independent Conservative.

But after UKIP’s local election success last month battered the Tories, Cllr Jones, along with his wife and former council cabinet member, Cllr Karen Shakespeare, decided the "time was right" to return.

Cllr Jones, who represents the Pedmore and Stourbridge East ward, said: "There were some  issues that I thought needed to be resolved. I thought it was best for me to stand aside.

"A lot of those issues have been resolved and the effect UKIP had on the local election made me realise now more than ever, it was important to have a strong local opposition to the Labour administration of Dudley Council."

Cllr Jones said he would not be seeking a shadow cabinet position at the moment as he was "happy" to be a backbencher.

Dudley's Conservative leader, Cllr Patrick Harley said he was "over the moon" about Cllr Jones' return and added: "It is long over-due."