ALLERDALE council’s leader has vowed to hold the new executive to account, speaking ahead of his expected departure from the top job.

Coun Alan Smith is gearing up to lead Labour in opposition after his party went from pole position to third place in the local elections earlier this month.

It was a political upset that saw the Independents clinch 19 seats, the Conservatives keep 15 and Labour plunge from to 27 to 14.

But a defiant Mr Smith said he would continue to fight to protect services from the other side of the council chamber as he prepares to face off against a likely Independent-Tory coalition.

He said: “My main objective is to make sure Allerdale gets the services they deserve and to ensure that the administration is held to account over everything they have promised to the people out there.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has revealed earlier this week that one of the most likely outcomes will see the borough council led by Independent Wigton councillor Marion Fitzgerald, with Conservative leader Mark Jenkinson serving as her deputy.

Mr Smith also revealed that he had been approached with the offer of Labour forming part of a Rainbow Alliance but had refused.

He also stressed that he had not courted members of the Independents or Conservatives to make up an administration.

He added: “What you end up with when you do that – and what’s happening now with the Tories and Independents – is that you can’t come to any kind of consensus or agreement.”

Mr Smith would have needed to find 11 non-Labour councillors who were willing to work with him.

But he said he was convinced he had done the “right thing” by refusing to strike a deal or to woo political support from the factions.

“I have been led to believe that there is no way they will sort things out (by the deadline of May 22),” he added.

The council has been asked if it will respond to claims that delegated powers could be signed over to officers in the event of a leader not emerging at the Annual General Meeting on May 22.

The communications department has also been asked to respond to rumours that officers could be given powers to enforce a proportional administration in the event of a political stalemate.

But they have not been able to provide an answer to either question at the time of publication.