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The leader of Dudley Council Pete Lowe has ramped up pressure on UKIP councillors amid crunch talks to decide who runs the town.
The controlling Labour group could face a battle to remain in power after UKIP said it was unlikely to support them this week.
Labour does not have a majority in Dudley, leaving the possibility of a deal between Conservatives and UKIP to change the leadership.

But Labour’s Pete Lowe, who is facing the prospect of losing his position of leader of the council, said for that to happen UKIP would have to put aside its claim of being an independent party.

Councillor Lowe said: “What will be interesting is UKIP claim to be independent, but they would have to decide to prop up a minority Conservative administration, that is what they would actively vote for.”

The uncertainty over who will lead for 2017/18 comes after UKIP group leader Councillor Paul Brothwood said he could no longer support Labour, hinting at a deal with the Tories.

The three parties have been at loggerheads over a series of issues, including plans to axe the borough’s leisure centres and increase council tax.

Labour was forced to U-turn on both following opposition at the council house.

Councillor Brothwood has suggested that Tory boss Patrick Harley could be put forward as leader at the authority’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday.

The move would need to be backed by almost all Conservative and UKIP councillors in a formal vote in order to be passed.

The UKIP chief said talks were still ongoing but that it was ‘highly unlikely’ the group would side with Labour. However, he added: “If we voted to put the Tories in power we would still keep our independence, we would stay as an opposition and not accept any cabinet positions.”

Councillor Lowe was philosophical when asked about the week ahead.

He said: “The AGM will decide both the mayor and leader of the council. All I can do is put my position forward and see where that takes us.

“I will continue doing what I have been doing, working in the best interests of Dudley.

“That is the important thing for whoever is leading the authority."

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