TORY Nigel Holdcroft was this afternoon elected leader of Southend Council.

Eight Lib Dem councillors and Independent Dr Vel abstained in the vote at the annual council.

Labour and the remaining Independents voted for Independent councillor Ron Woodley, as did Lib Dem Prittlewell councillor Ric Morgan.

Mr Holdcroft, who won the vote 25-16, will now seek to form a minority Tory administration at the Civic Centre.

It came after the Tories lost outright control of the authority at last Thursday's local elections.

Following the Local Elections, no single party held an outright majority on the 51-seat Council.

The Conservatives held 25 seats, the Liberal Democrats and Independents 10 seats each and Labour six seats.

After tendering his resignation with effect from 3pm this afternoon, Cllr Holdcroft immediately put his name forward for re-election.

Independent Councillor Ron Woodley, who represents Thorpe Ward, also put his name forward as a candidate for Leader.

Mr Holdcroft, who represents West Leigh Ward, was duly re-elected as Leader by 25 votes to 16, with nine councillors abstaining from the vote.

He is expected to announce the composition of his Cabinet early next week.