THE Tories have been accused of forming a coalition with Ukip after giving the party two cabinet positions – and the deputy mayor’s post.
Linda Allport-Hodge, deputy leader of Ukip and ward councillor for Langdon Hills, and Mark Ellis, who represents Laindon Park, have been made cabinet members without special responsibilities.
During the council's annual general meeting, Nigel Le Gresley, Ukip councillor for Wickford Castledon, was also elected deputy mayor.
It comes despite the Tories insisting they will run Basildon Council as a minority administration.
The remaining opposition parties are convinced a deal has been brokered behind closed doors.
It comes after Ukip roared to victory in the local elections last month – securing 11 of the 15 seats up for grabs.
Aiden McGurran, Labour councillor for Pitsea South East, said: “There is no getting away from the fact Ukip has a massive presence on this council now and we’ve all got to work with that.
“What is interesting is we can already see early signs of a coalition between the Conservatives and Ukip. We have always said a vote for Ukip is a vote for a Tory.”
Geoff Williams, the only Lib Dem councillor left, added: “If it looks like, and walks like a coalition, then it is a coalition.”
There were tuts and jeers at the meeting as the vote to get through the committee set-up went along party lines – with Conservative and Ukip councillors successfully voting it through and Labour, Lib Dem and Independent Labour objecting.
The Labour Party was offered one of the available cabinet positions – but turned it down.
Byron Taylor, leader of the group, said: “The Labour Party has very set rules about joint adminstrations, but there is no way we would sit on a cabinet which included Ukip.
“I don’t think Ukip is going to deliver as coalition partners, and there are going to be a lot of issues between the two parties.”
The Tories and Ukip have both fiercely denied claims of a joint administration.
Phil Turner, who was officially named as new leader of Basildon Council at the meeting, said: “Labour were offered a cabinet position without portfolio.
“However, that was turned down and we had no alternative but to let the oppisiton take the seat.
“It’s fair to say there is no coalition, there are no agreements, we have all got to work together as best we can.”
Ukip’s Kerry Smith added: “Anything we don’t like we are going to vote against.”