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Bumbling Tory backstabbing hands Labour control of council

LABOUR has taken control of a scandal-hit Conservative majority council due to bumbling Tory backstabbing.

Labour councillor Paul Foster was voted in as the new leader of South Ribble borough council in Lancashire last night, becoming its fourth leader in two years.

His ascension came hours after Tory council leader Mary Green resigned from the role, citing “threatening behaviour” as the reason.

Ms Green had been deposed as leader of the Tory group last week. She claims she was the victim of a “character assassination” by Labour while her Conservative colleagues gave her no support.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council, which the Tory group called to “consider” a motion of no confidence in Ms Green, her decision to step down — which decided the issue automatically — caused chaos.

South Ribble council deputy leader Caroline Moon told the all-party meeting that Conservative Party rules meant that the group could not nominate a new council leader until it elected a new group leader, and called for the meeting to be held next month.

However, the absence of nine Tory councillors meant that the Tories did not have a working majority, leading Liberal Democrat councillor David Howarth to remind colleagues that “this council is not run by the standing orders of the Conservative group.”

After pressure from Labour, the Lib Dems and independents, Ms Moon’s request was rejected.

Labour councillor Paul Foster was nominated to take over the authority on a vote of 20 to 19.

Labour and the Lib Dems are now looking at forming a minority administration in the borough.

Lashing out at the Tories, Mr Foster told Tory councillors that “each and every one” of them should resign “first thing in the morning.

“You are the ruling party and you have a responsibility to lead this council.

“We’re going to take control of this council and, whether it’s for three weeks or three months, we’ll do right by the residents.”

Later on, he said that the Tories’ infighting was a “dereliction of duty” and told residents that Labour in local government “won’t be letting anyone down.”

The council has been beset by accusations of bullying and harassment after its handling of taxi licensing that led to allegations of sexual exploitation of children by taxi drivers in 2016.

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