The Conservatives are expected to try to take political charge of Brighton and Hove City Council early next week.
They have called an “extraordinary meeting” of the full council to decide whether opposition Tory leader Tony Janio will take over from Labour council leader Daniel Yates.
The meeting – at Hove Town Hall next Tuesday (5 March) – is also expected to settle which party’s councillors will chair the key decision-making committees.
The political takeover attempt follows the defection of Councillor Anne Meadows from Labour to the Conservatives last week.
Any change will be short-lived, with local elections due to take place on Thursday 2 May when all 54 council seats in Brighton and Hove will be up for grabs.
The switch by Councillor Meadows meant that the Tories became the largest party and by convention the party with the most seats runs the council.
There are now 21 Conservatives, 19 Labour, 11 Green and two Independent Group councillors – including the former Labour leader of the council Warren Morgan. There is also one vacancy after the resignation of Labour councillor Caroline Penn.
At the last local elections in May 2015, Labour won 23 seats, the Conservatives won 20 and the Greens won 11.
The recent changes mean that the Greens now hold the balance of power, enabling them to act as “kingmaker”.
They will also be in a stronger position to win concessions when the council sets its budget – including the level of council tax – on Thursday (28 February).
At the meeting next week the decisions will include who should chair the Housing and New Homes Committee – a post held by Councillor Meadows before she switched parties.
The Conservatives are expected to propose former council leader Mary Mears as the new chair of the housing committee, with Councillor Meadows as her deputy.
If the Tories take charge, Councillor Janio would become leader of the council and chair the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee, with Councillor Steve Bell as his deputy.
Councillor Vanessa Brown would chair the Children, Young People and Skills Committee.
Councillor Lee Wares would chair the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
Councillor Robert Nemeth would chair the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities and Equalities Committee, which his party plans to abolish.
Councillor Joe Miller would chair the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee.
Councillor Nick Lewry would chair the Licensing Committee.
Councillor Carol Theobald would chair the Planning Committee – a post that she has held before.
And Councillor Nick Taylor would chair the Health and Wellbeing Board.
The number of seats on each committee is likely to be adjusted to take into account the number of seats now held by each party.
This should mean three more seats on committees for The Independent Group which is made up of former Labour councillors Warren Morgan and Michael Inkpin-Leissner. They have said that they will continue to vote with Labour.
The extraordinary council meeting is due to be held at Hove Town Hall on Tuesday 5 March.
The meeting, which is open to the public, is expected to start at 4.30pm but may start later if councillors fail to agree to agree a budget on Thursday and require a second meeting.
Any budget discussions would take place before the extraordinary meeting begins.
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