COUNCILLOR Les Jones, former leader of Dudley Council, has confirmed he has stepped down as leader of Dudley's Conservative party.

Cllr Jones, one of the borough's highest profile politicians, shared the news with party colleagues yesterday (Friday) - the day after the Tories suffered the loss of another council seat in the Wollaston and Stourbridge Town by-election which went to Labour's Barbara Sykes.

The long-serving councillor for Pedmore and Stourbridge East, who has played a key role in steering forward the borough's big regenerations projects - particularly in Stourbridge, said his decision to resign was not related to the Wollaston and Stourbridge Town defeat.

But it comes after a testing 12-months which has seen Dudley's Tory party hit hard by the deaths of three sitting and popular councillors - Margaret Cowell (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town), Angus Adams (Norton) - the borough's transport spokesman and a close friend of cllr Jones, and Malcolm Knowles (Wollaston and Stourbridge Town) - the borough's former Mayor and regeneration boss.

Cllr Jones was also at the helm when the Tories lost control of the borough back in May 2012, just a year into the job he had long strived for - having taken over the reigns from the then leader, councillor Anne Millward, who lost her seat in 2011 just 12 months after David Cameron became Prime Minister.

It is not yet known who will take over as leader of the Conservative party in Dudley.