Local Democracy Reporter John Connell looks at fight for leadership of Allerdale Council...

Allerdale’s Tory leader has likened the cut-throat council leadership battle to ‘Game of Thrones’ – the hit TV show infamous for its for its plots and ruthless power plays.

Newly-elected councillors are holding group meetings and cross-party talks as they jockey for position in a “febrile” political climate, with the council leadership still to play for.

Independent candidates stormed to victory on Thursday, clinching 19 seats as Labour suffered a big slump and the Conservatives kept 15.

Numerically speaking the Independents are in the strongest position, but they are not necessarily united on the way forward.

They are made up of at least three distinct groupings, with some members poles apart politically.

Labour’s Alan Smith remains in the top job until May 22 when the new leader will be formally announced.

Conservative leader Tony Annison, who was elected to the Warnell ward, has been mooted as one of his possible replacements.

He said: “The games that are going on: it’s like the Game of Thrones. We can all feel the elbows and there are lots of twists and turns.

“The final episode of Allerdale’s Game of Thrones will be resolved on May 22.”

The Conservatives have ruled out a deal with Labour after the dust has settled on last week’s shock election results.

This makes a Tory-Independent coalition among the most likely outcomes, though it is unclear at this stage whether the leader will be an Independent or a Conservative.

In another plot twist, it is understood that a separate Conservative group leadership contest may be held on Thursday.

However, the Tories would not the confirm the rumours or that the current deputy leader Mark Jenkinson is leading the coup.

Mr Jenkinson, elected to the Seaton ward, is heading up negotiations with the Independents.

But reaching a consensus on the shape of the council, or who should lead it, will prove difficult, with some of the Independents favouring Mr Jenkinson and others who would prefer to work with Mr Annison.

In a statement, the Conservatives said: “Given their record, and the resounding rejection of it they’ve just suffered, for any group or party to prop up a Labour administration going forward would be an affront to democracy.

“We look forward to a more open, transparent and inclusive administration – one that works for the whole of Allerdale.”

Stephen Stoddart, who helped to found one of the Independent groups, has declined to comment on the shape of the council until after a meeting tonight at which he will have a chance to discuss plans with colleagues.