A LABOUR bid to oust Dudley Council’s Tory leader from his top post amid concerns about his conduct has failed after Conservatives rallied in support at a crunch meeting on Monday night.

An extraordinary meeting of the council was held at Dudley Town Hall on July 10 after senior female Labour councillors called for it to take place in an attempt to have Councillor Patrick Harley removed from office.

The meeting was called after Tory cabinet member Councillor Natalie Neale shared an email she’d sent to Cllr Harley, branding him an unsuitable leader and saying she felt uncomfortable in his presence.

Ahead of the meeting, Cllr Harley labelled it “a pointless exercise” and said he refuted the allegations and was taking legal action regarding comments made by Cllr Neale – whom he said he’d been in a relationship with.

Cllr Neale has declined to comment on the matter and did not attend Monday’s meeting where the ruling Conservative Party successfully blocked Labour’s motion, calling for Cllr Harley’s immediate removal as leader, by 38 votes to 27.

Councillor Qadar Zada, leader of Dudley Labour Group, slammed loyal Tories who voted to keep Cllr Harley in post and said “there’s more backbone in a jelly fish” after reeling off a list of projects which he said have failed to come to fruition under the Conservative administration.

He had hoped Tory colleagues would add their weight to the motion which he stressed was not “a Labour motion for a Labour council” and he said afterwards: “It’s not over, we will fight for this borough.”

Seconding the motion, Labour councillor Hilary Bills outlined deeply held concerns about the Tory administration as she referenced senior female councillors who are no longer on the council – saying: “There’s something wrong with this Conservative Group. They are not treating women in the correct manner.”

Conservative councillor for Sedgley, Shaun Keasey, a former cabinet member, did put himself at odds with colleagues to pledge his support – saying members were not obliged to vote with their group on matters of conscience and that he wanted to disassociate himself from remarks made by Cllr Harley in the press.

The motion, however, was lost.