TALKS between rival parties about teaming up to grab control of Worcester City Council have already started in earnest.

Thursday night’s tense count meant that the ruling Conservative Party lost its overall majority, leaving political control over the council hanging in the balance.

The Tories suffered shock defeats in both the Cathedral and St Stephen wards, while Labour made three gains in a torrid night for the coalition Government.

The Conservatives now have 17 councillors compared with 15 Labour, two Liberal Democrat and one Green, meaning for the first time ever a Lab-Lib-Green coalition could take over.

The only way that could happen is if all three made a deal to put forward a ‘no confidence’ motion in leader Councillor Simon Geraghty at the council’s annual meeting on Tuesday, May 15, and suggest their own alternative leader and cabinet members.

Party sources confirmed the Labour Party had established contact with the Liberal Democrats and Greens yesterday, with talks set to continue over the weekend.

Coun Adrian Gregson, Labour group leader, said: “We are having discussions with various people and there is nothing more I can add at this stage, other than to say we want the make-up of the council to reflect the wishes of the electorate.”

Worcester’s Liberal Democrats suffered a huge blow when they lost group leader Sue Askin in Claines, defeated by the Tories’ Mike Whitehouse by 65 votes.

She said: “The vote in Claines was very close and I am obviously disappointed, but a lot of people supported me and I’d like to thank them.”

Coun Geraghty, who kept his St Clement seat for the Conservatives, has vowed to fight on as part of a minority administration.

He said: “The only way things can change is if all the other parties team up, and I happen to think a rainbow coalition would not be good for Worcester.

“I remain leader, and the cabinet remains in place up until any such moment where it changes – my stance is that as the largest group, we want to advance the policies we’ve been elected on.”

He refused to rule out any talks with either the Liberal Democrat group, or Green Councillor Neil Laurenson in a last-ditch bid to prevent a rival coalition forming.

Coun Laurenson said: “I’m a novice caught in the middle of a power struggle between the two main parties so it’s going to be difficult.

“I’ll need to talk to my own party before I decide what to do.”

The Tories’ worst result was in Cathedral where Francis Lankester, a former deputy leader and cabinet member with 13 years’ experience on the authority, was ousted by Labour’s Lynn Denham by 60 votes.

He said: “It was a privilege to represent the people of Cathedral.”