TORIES will form the next administration of Southend Council alone, the Echo has learned.

After Thursday's elections left Ron Woodley's "rainbow coalition" neck-and-neck with the Tories at 24 seats, two short of an overall majority, and Ukip's two members were raised to kingmakers after Carole Mulroney's two Liberal Democrats ruled out working with the Conservatives.

The Echo understands a deal has now been signed between the Tories and Ukip which would see John Lamb made leader of the council with a Conservative cabinet supported by Ukip in a "confidence and supply" arrangement.

This will be subject to a number of conditions including;

  • No changes will be made to the layout of the Kent Elms junction on the A127 without the agreement of both groups
  • Fees for tables and chairs outside cafes will be abolished in the 2017/18 Budget
  • No new cash spent on the seafront museum project, unless both groups agree
  • Respite holidays for dementia patients and the disabled will have ring-fenced funding
  • The council will leave the Local Government Association, saving £56,000 a year

An agreement had to be signed before Thursday, when a new mayor is elected, though Ron Woodley will continue as leader until he is voted out of office.

Mr Woodley said this would likely be at least another week away due to the amount of time it takes to table a motion in the council.

Following the defeat of deputy mayor Dr Vel in Westborough ward on Thursday, Mr Lamb was next in line to succeed to the mayoralty, though he said earlier this week he would pass if he was able to form an administration.

The office, which is awarded based on length of service and a "four year rule" on which party can hold it, will now most likely fall on Labour councillor Judith McMahon with Tory Fay Evans as her deputy.