THE leader of the Allerdale Independents remains hopeful that his political group will take control of the borough council.

The authority has had a Conservative interim leader since independent Councillor Marion Fitzgerald resigned in February, with Councillor Mike Johnson assuming her responsibilities on an interim basis.

An independent-Conservative coalition had been in charge since the borough elections in May last year, when a major shake-up of the political landscape in West Cumbria saw independent councillors clinch more seats than both the Conservatives and Labour.

But that coalition broke up in March and the executive now has five Conservative members – Councillors Johnson, John Cook, Jim Lister, Tony Markley and Alan Pitcher – and just one independent in Coun Fitzgerald.

Allerdale Independents leader Councillor Paul Scott has now said he intends to push to bring the council under independent control, although a vote on a permanent council leader is not expected until next year.

“The independents and their allies represent the largest grouping of councillors on the council,” he said.

“Fair play now demands that we are given the opportunity to form an administration and, to this end, we will utilise every opportunity to ensure that this becomes the situation.

“The independents have the right to put their progressive ideas and their new way of governance into operation.

“It is time for the likes of Coun Johnson and Coun Smith to make way for our new, vigorous, imaginative and capable grouping to have the chance to govern.”

He, like Labour leader Alan Smith, pledged to support the administration, but said they would not have their “tummies tickled”.

Councillor Smith revealed earlier this month that the council’s Labour group had struck a “confidence and supply” deal to vote in support of the Conservatives, although he stressed that it was not a coalition and the group would not take seats on the executive.

Coun Johnson declined to respond to Mr Scott’s comments.