A FORMER mayor came back to haunt her old party by ensuring Labour stayed in power in Thurrock.

Anne Cheale, who formed her own breakaway group, the Concerned Conservatives, after quitting the Tories last year, appointed Labour candidate Charles Curtis as the new mayor of Thurrock, which gave Labour the balance of power at the council.

She used her casting vote as the outgoing mayor to elect Mr Curtis over her mayoral deputy, Tory Tunde Ojetola.

In the leadership vote afterwards, the Tories were neck and neck with Labour at 24 votes each, after the Conservatives secured the votes of the council’s two independent members.

However, the casting vote of the new Labour mayor Mr Curtis nudged the party ahead.

In her parting speech, Mrs Cheale, who made the appointment despite no longer serving as a councillor for Corringham and Fobbing, said: “It is with sadness I come here tonight.

“It’s been a long year with many ups and downs, but it’s been a privilege to serve the people of Thurrock and to represent Thurrock.”

Several Labour councillors, as well Independent group leader Barry Palmer, rose to pay tribute to Mrs Cheale, but her old group, which she lead from 2004 to 2006, was silent, aside from former deputy mayor Tunde Ojetola.

Mr Ojetola said even though they had their differences, he wished her “all the best”.

John Kent, Labour group leader, said: "I would like to thank her for her many years of service.

“I’m sure she’ll look back on her years of service with pride.”

Anne Cheale was elected as a Tory councillor in 2000, but relations between her and the group turned sour in 2010 when she fell out with the then Tory leader, Garry Hague, and tabled a vote of no confidence in him.

She was chucked out of the group and formed the Concerned Conservatives with fellow disgruntled Tories, Stuart St Clair-Halsam and Ian Harrison.

After the local elections in May 2010, Mrs Cheale and Mr St Clair-Haslam helped Labour seize control of the authority.