THE Conservatives look set to take control of deadlocked Dudley Council next week, but not without controversy.

The party made two gains to take 13 seats in all while Labour won 11 with one gain on May 2, leaving both parties with 36 seats.

The Tories now plan to take control of the authority with the mayor's casting vote, by nominating another Tory mayor.

Tory leader Councillor Patrick Harley confirmed Councillor David Stanley has been chosen by the party to be put forward for the mayoralty.

The Gornal ward councillor's nomination will be put to a vote at full council on May 16, where current mayor and Conservative Alan Taylor will have the casting vote.

Traditionally the deputy mayor, currently Labour's Councillor Hillary Bills, takes over when the mayor's term is up.

Current leader of the council and Labour leader Councillor Qada Zada blasted the move and said there is 'no electoral mandate for a Conservative administration'.

He said: "Replacing a planned female mayor with a male mayor would be wrong for democracy, and would really damage our desire to engage more women in politics. Very rarely do we get the chance to secure a female mayor and I would be furious if the Tories chose a male over a female and I hope members of the Conservative party dig deep and stand for what is right."

The deadlock comes after a dramatic election night which saw the result come down to one seat, Wollaston and Stourbridge Town, which was announced last after several recounts.

The Conservatives held the seat by six votes, a result Cllr Zada said was 'heartbreaking' to lose.

He added that he thought his party had fought a 'fantastic' campaign and overall he was 'pleased with where we have ended up'.

Councillor Patrick Harley, who was re-elected leader of the Conservative group by his colleagues at a private meeting last Friday, said the party had done 'extremely well'.

He said: "Our vote held up in the strong seats and our vote share increased in some seats. We took Brockmoor and Pensnett which is a massive achievement.

"We were really close in Brierley Hill and Quarry Bank. I can't wait for next May and hope that by next year Brexit will be sorted one way or another, and we can take more seats."

He added that it 'frustrating' that national politics had affected the local election result, a feeling shared by Cllr Zada who described it a 'strange election' given the impact of the national mood.