THE Conservatives now lead Dudley Council following Councillor Patrick Harley's election as leader of the deadlocked council.

The former leader ran unopposed to the leadership at last night's full council meeting (May 16).

His election was smoothed by a Conservative mayor being elected earlier in the meeting, giving the Tories the advantage of the mayor's casting vote in the chamber.

Councillor David Stanley was elected as the new Mayor of Dudley, beating sitting Deputy Mayor Hilary Bills (Labour) by 36 votes to 35.

The Gornal councillor previously served as Mayor in 2007.

His election was preceded by a fractious debate which saw Labour councillors argue that the Deputy Mayor, a Labour councillor, should be elected Mayor.

Traditionally the Deputy Mayor takes over the mayoralty when the sitting Mayor's term is completed.

Councillor Dave Tyler blasted the nomination of a Conservative mayor as a 'disgrace' but Councillor Harley defended the move as 'practical'.

He noted the Conservatives won 13 out of the 24 seats up for election two weeks ago, and that the Conservatives taking control of the council was ensuring 'the will of the people is delivered'.

Councillor Hilary Bills, who represents Halesowen North, was elected to serve as Deputy Mayor for a second year.