DUDLEY Council will continue to be Conservative-led after political leaders hammered out a deal in the wake of local elections.

Voters elected the same number of councillors for both Labour and the Tories, plus three Liberal Democrats and one independent, meaning tough negotiations were needed to shape the new authority.

Councillor Patrick Harley will continue as leader and select the cabinet while Labour will hold the majority of scrutiny committee chairmanships and the mayoralty.

He said: “All three groups will have huge influence, it is a unifying thing which will bring stability and it has been done in a mature and sensible manner.

“It is a good deal for the borough, we shall get to the nitty gritty in scrutiny and cabinet so full council should be without drama.”

Under the deal long-standing Councillor Hilary Bills is set to be elected as the new mayor, a role she missed out on after being deputy mayor three times.

Labour group leader, Councillor Pete Lowe, said: “The best approach for the people of Dudley is to look at what they would expect from us.

“When we are in the financial situation that we are, we need to hold the executive to account which we have managed to do following discussions.

“We will be able to right the wrong in making Hilary Bills mayor, a position that was stolen from her many years ago.”

While the Lib Dems will hold the balance of power they have opted to avoid doing deals with either side.

Councillor Ryan Priest, from the Lib Dems, will serve as vice-chair on the powerful Overview and Scrutiny Committee under the chairmanship of independent Councillor Shaun Keasey.

Cllr Priest said: “This feels like grown-up politics, this has been tough with a lot of backwards and forwards.

“We are clear it is a Conservative authority but the opposition has more powers of scrutiny.

“There is no formal agreement – nobody is propping anybody up.”

The new arrangements for control of the council are set to be formally approved by a meeting of the full council on Thursday May 16.