Allerdale Council's Labour group has pledged to put party politics to one side and support the Conservative interim leader during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor Alan Smith, leader of the council's Labour group, said members would vote in support of the interim council leader, Councillor Mike Johnson, in a "confidence and supply" deal to ensure vital services could continue to be delivered without a logjam due to the different political groups.

The two sides would not enter a coalition, Coun Smith stressed, and the Labour group would take no seats on the council's executive, which is made up of five Conservatives and one independent.

He said: "The full-blown coalition between the Conservatives and the Allerdale Independents has blown up and it's put everyone in a position where there's no leading group.

"The council has got to do things and it needs to have somebody to make those decisions.

"We are not working with the Tories, but we have got an agreement with them.

"We are still going to keep our own autonomy and if there are things we don't like we will argue with them because we aren't in there just to nod our heads.

"The main thing is that people out there are getting a service because they pay their council tax and they've got to have a return for it."

Coun Johnson, who is the council’s deputy leader but has been acting as leader since Councillor Marion Fitzgerald stepped down in February, said the support was important with no group having a majority on the authority.

“Clearly, we are not sharing an executive or administration, but we are working together for the benefit of our communities," he said.

“I think, certainly in local government, that is the way forward.

“We need to work together to achieve what we want to for Allerdale."

The council currently has 16 members who are in the Allerdale Independents group, with 14 Conservative councillors, 12 Labour councillors, one Moorclose Independent in Stephen Stoddart and two independent councillors in ex-leader Marion Fitzgerald and Joe Holliday.

Coun Johnson said a decision on a permanent leader would likely wait until the annual general meeting next year, unless an extraordinary general meeting was called by councillors before then.

He also said talks were continuing with Workington Reds and Workington Town, the town's biggest football and rugby league teams, over a new shared home after plans for an 8,000-capacity stadium were scrapped by the executive last year.

And he revealed the council is looking to bring more services in-house and could look to set up its own housing company to build affordable homes for sale or rent.