DUDLEY'S Conservative's have a new leader after the election of cllr Patrick Harley to the top job.

Cllr Harley was selected by Conservative councillors to lead the group after the surprise resignation of cllr Les Jones amid turmoil within the party over election strategy.

Speaking after his election, cllr Harley delivered a call for Tory unity ahead of the final rounds of debate with Labour about the council's 2013 budget.

He said: "We must pull together to take on Labour. We need to turn our guns on the controlling group rather than each other.

"This is a chance to draw a line under the difficulties we have had over the last seven days."

The contest for the top job was a two-horse race between cllr Harley and Hayley Green and Cradley South cllr Ken Turner.

The group's deputy leader, cllr Tim Wright, had planned to run for election but withdrew his candidacy before the vote, at a meeting on Friday February 8, after he concluded his business commitments did not allow him adequate time for the leadership job.

The shadow cabinet will see cllr Wright continue as deputy leader and take up his new boss's former role as spokesman on transport.

Cllr Ken Turner has been promoted from the back benches to join the shadow cabinet as spokesman for regeneration.

Cllr Harley joined the Conservative Party in the mid-90s but briefly defected to the Lib Dems in 2000. He rejoined the Tories in 2002 after he settled issues he describes as "differences".