SOUTHEND’S rainbow coalition looks set to continue to oppose a Conservative-led council.

Tories won three new seats in last week’s local elections giving them 42 per cent of the vote and 11 out of 17 available wards.

However, with 23 seats, they are still a minority against Labour, Lib Dems and Independents with their combined 25 seats.

In addition, three non-aligned independents have yet to show any support for a new Conservative administration and are more likely to support the three-party alliance.


Ron Woodley, Independent deputy leader of the council, said he was confident the three coalition parties would once more co-operate in the next administration.

He said: “Myself and Ian Gilbert have worked extremely well over the last two years so I think my group are prepared to stay with the joint administration because we see this as the best way forward.

“I am meeting Ian Gilbert and Carole Mulronney to finalise terms today.

“The three non-aligned councillors will look at it as supporting the best policies coming through. They will support policies if they are confident enough in them but if not it will be a ‘no’ vote.”

The current make up of the council with Ian Gilbert as leader is unlikely to change but some cabinet posts may change, including Kevin Robinson who is set to become deputy mayor, so will relinquish his business culture and tourism cabinet role.

Conservatives saw the return of two big hitters, James Courtenay, a previous leader of the council and James Moyies, former Vote Leave regional director for the east of England.

The party also celebrated a victory in Belfairs ward for Jack Warren, who at the age of 30 has become one the youngest members of the council. He ousted veteran Independent Stephen Aylen.

While they are short of an overall majority, the party has yet to give up on being able to form an administration.

Tony Cox, leader of the Tory group, said: “We were not quite there as a majority but what the town didn’t vote for was a minority coalition.

“There was not enough support and a clear rejection of their policies. Discussions are still being had.

“The public have spoken through the ballot box and they didn’t vote for a coalition.”