DUDLEY’S leader bagged a late election night success after Conservative agony left Labour on top at the Local Government Association (LGA).

Councillor David Sparks is set to take over as chairman of the LGA after his party overtook the Tories to become the biggest political group on the association, which represents local authorities in England and Wales.

Cllr Sparks, who will be the first Labour chief of the organisation since 2004, will succeed Sir Merrick Cockell as chairman at the LGA annual conference in July.

Cllr Sparks said: "These are crucial times for local government and it will be vital that we continue to speak with one unified voice. Sir Merrick built a rapport across all parties during his time as chair and I am determined to continue that consensus approach.

"The best relationships within a democracy are those built on mutual respect. There has never been a time when that approach is more important than at this moment. The key priority for all of us now is to ensure that this government, and whoever makes up the next one, commits to a genuine devolution of powers to local areas to safeguard the future of public services."

Following the local elections, the political make-up of the LGA is Labour (40.6 per cent), Conservative (38.3 per cent), Liberal Democrat (10.8 per cent), other (10 per cent), Plaid Cymru (0.3 per cent).