An alliance of opposition parties has taken control of Basildon Council after narrowly winning a leadership vote.

The leader of the alliance, Labour’s Gavin Callaghan promised that the group would be a partnership where no one group has overall control of the council.

He said: “The days of large Labour and Conservative majorities on the council are over.

“Difficult politics can make or break you. This alliance has chosen to make this work and respect the vote.”

He went on to thank outgoing Conservative leader Andrew Baggott, telling him he should be proud of the work he did in the past 12 months.

The alliance, which holds 21 of the council’s 42 seats won the narrow victory with the help of Ukip’s sole councillor, Hazel Green, who sided with them to give 22 votes over 20 for the Tories.

It was a surprising decision after she had previously given a firm commitment to back the Conservatives, claiming that she could not support Labour councillors due to their support for an “anti-democratic second referendum on Brexit”.

Former Ukip councillor Frank Ferguson, who has been acting as her ‘agent’, announced just hours before the vote she had changed her mind and was expected to vote with the opposition.

He said her change of heart was because “she feels that will be the best outcome for her constituents”.

The alliance is made up of the Labour group, the Independents and the Wickford Independents, which is led by former Basildon mayor, councillor David Harrison.

Independent Kerry Smith was appointed deputy leader.

He pledged to “come out and bat for residents” and said the alliance will be “transparent, democratic and accountable.”

Speaking before the vote, Conservative Councillor Craig Rimmer, said the Tories had the “democratic legitimate right to run the council” and it was the “party that almost got to the line but fell short by one vote”.

Outgoing leader Andrew Baggott said that they had a plan that was based listening to the people of Basildon and addressing the issues that are important to them.