The Labour leader of Wolverhampton City Council has warned he will be forced to cut jobs, after his party dramatically regained control of the authority from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Roger Lawrence pledged to “protect the most vulnerable and to manage as best we can the unprecedented cuts and inevitable job losses”.
Coun Lawrence, who previously led Wolverhampton from 2002 to 2008, was returned to the top job after the Tory and Lib Dem coalition lost a motion of no confidence in a knife-edge vote on Wednesday night.
The old regime, led by Tory leader Neville Patten, was ousted by 31 votes to 29.
Labour won the vote thanks to the support of councillor Claire Darke, a Lib Dem who voted to kick the coalition out.
She had been a member of the Conservative and Lib Dem cabinet, in charge of the city’s schools.
But she shocked colleagues in September by resigning without warning from the coalition.
Giving her reasons at the time, she said: “The ideological driven policies of the Conservatives to slash and burn our great city’s services must not be tolerated.”
Since then, she has sat as an independent Lib Dem, remaining a member of the party but working separately to the other Lib Dems on the council.
By siding with Labour in a vote expressing “no confidence” in the coalition, she allowed them to regain power.
In a statement issued after the vote, Coun Lawrence attacked the coalition Government in Westminster for imposing cuts on councils, but warned the city would have no choice but to make changes.
He said: “The government is calling on us to do ‘more for less’ at the same time as cutting the poorest Cities and towns the hardest.
Make no mistake this is a vicious attack on the weak and excluded masked by a contemptible pretence of shifting power to local people.
“Labour has determined to retake control of the Council to seek to protect the most vulnerable and to manage as best we can the unprecedented cuts and inevitable job losses forced on us by this ‘ConDem’ Government.”
He added: “As a Council we must change – jobs will be lost, services reshaped but where changes are made we will seek to improve services and work with service users and providers.
"The proposals for reduction in senior management show that we will seek to ensure the burden falls fairly – but we will not allow the organisation’s capacity to develop and to evolve to be lost.”