DUDLEY'S Lib Dems have begun political manoeuvres ahead of the local elections by agreeing to not stand in Gornal and Sedgley.

The deal is designed to benefit independent candidates in the north of the borough who are targeting Conservative voters.

Candidates including former Conservative council leader Anne Millward met up with the Lib Dems’ only Dudley councillor, Ryan Priest, to announce the pre-election pact.

Cllr Priest said: “The Lib Dems have decided they won’t be standing to give the best chance of getting rid of the Conservatives.”

The May 2 election will see all 72 seats on Tory controlled Dudley Council up for grabs and the Lib Dems are hoping to win up to nine of those.

Even Cllr Priest says nine Lib Dems on the council would be dreamland but the party has high hopes of gains in the Cradley and Stourbridge part of the borough.

He added: “It is not a deal that has been done with me expecting to get anything out of it, it is about who is best to represent the ward.

“We are laser-focused on winning our target seats and Sedgley and Gornal are not among them.

“Dudley is missing a third force, if this can bring that back then good.”

Mrs Millward agreed, she said: “It would be a much more balanced authority with people thinking about the residents, we have lost that in my view.”

Along with the Lib Dems and the quartet of independents in Gornal and Sedgley there will also be at least four more independent candidates in Kingswinford and Wall Heath led by former Tory front-bencher Shaz Saleem.

Currently the Conservative group has a healthy majority of 10 on the council but if they lose seats in May the balance of power could shift with Lib Dems and independent councillors dictating who takes control.

While no post-election deals have yet been announced the decision by the Lib Dems to keep out of Gornal and Sedgley was welcomed by independent councillor Shaun Keasey.

Cllr Keasey said: “We have our differences but we are in it to get the best for the people we represent.”