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Dudley's leader-elect pledges to put education first
2:20pm Wednesday 9th May 2012 in Local
DUDLEY'S new leaders have pledged to make education their top priority after a landslide Labour local election victory.
Cllr David Sparks OBE and his deputy cllr Shaukat Ali have begun shaping a new administration at Dudley Council House following shock results after last Thursday's local elections.
The Conservative vote followed a national trend and collapsed, leaving the door open for Labour to finish with 41 members of the 72 seat council.
Council leader-elect cllr Sparks said: "Dudley is one of the biggest local authorities, our population is bigger than many cities. We need to punch our weight.
"We need to invest in our children and young people's future by ensuring we have the best possible education system.
"Young people coming out of our schools and colleges need to be able to compete in a global economy."
Cllr Sparks, who is leader of the Labour group on the Local Government Association, is calling for Black Country councils to work together to avoid being left behind when the country rebuilds after recession.
He also ruled out any more city status bids, arguing there is a difference between Dudley as a town with neighbours like Stourbridge and Halesowen, and the region of Dudley as a metropolitan borough.
DUDLEY'S Conservatives suffered an election disaster but have vowed to come out fighting to win back power.
The group has returned to the opposition benches after nine years running Dudley Council and without further seismic shifts in public opinion have little chance of regaining control for at least four years.
Despite a setback which was worse than he expected, Conservative leader cllr Les Jones says he is regrouping and getting ready to hold Labour to account.
He said: "I am working on a shadow cabinet to make sure we have a team prepared to be a constructive opposition.
"Labour has got plans to review a lot of things, we don't generally expect massive changes in the short term. It is a case of wait and see."
The new look full council will meet for the first time on Thursday May 17 when Labour's cabinet will be unveiled and a new mayor will be chosen.