WIRRAL Council has its first Conservative leader in 24 years tonight, as part of an alliance with the Liberal Democrats.

Cllr Jeff Green, leader of Wirral's Conservative group was elected during a council meeting at Wallasey Town Hall earlier this evening.

He was elected by 39 votes to 20. There was one abstention and five councillors were absent.

Lib-Dem leader Simon Holbrook was elected deputy council leader.

Labour's outgoing council leader, Steve Foulkes expressed his disappointment with the new administration, branding it a "Coalition of Losers."

In his election speech, Cllr Green paid tribute to the work carried out by Wirral's Labour/Lib-Dem council over the last three years.

He also promised to work 'cross-party' with all of his colleagues within the council.

He told the Globe afterwards: "I'm delighted to be the first Conservative leader of Wirral Borough Council in 24 years.

"I think it shows that, not only are we prepared to engage in the new politics nationally, we want to do it locally, too.

"I have been very impressed at the areas of agreement we have found with the local Liberal Democrats, especially on our agenda of giving power to residents.

"Making sure that they are involved in decision-making and making sure that we engage in meaningful consultation with local residents is at the heart of our agreement.

"What we did is offer an open and generous partnership with the Lib-Dems. We said that we would like to speak to them about our various manifestoes.

"We engaged in that discussion and it became clear that there was lot of overlap in agreement of where we saw Wirral going forward.

"There's also a degree that we would have something that would be sustainable, because there are big challenges ahead."

Looking to the future, Cllr Green admitted that big decisions lay ahead.

He said: "Everybody now knows that the Labour Party's spent all the money. That is going to have an affect on local government and some big decisions are going to have to be made going forward.

"My commitment is that we need to make sure we are involving the public in those decisions. We're keen for that to happen."

Labour leader Steve Foulkes, whose party has run the council in coalition with the Liberal Democrats for the last three years, said: "We are naturally very disappointed that the Liberal Democrats have chosen to recklessly abandon their principles and prop-up a Conservative administration.

"The decision is even more startling, given their frequently-stated opposition to Tory policies, and the fact that their own beliefs have always been much closer to Labour than the Conservatives, as witnessed by their previous successful coalition with Labour.

"Frankly, this is a deal that smacks of desperation.

"In the recent elections, Labour won four seats and the largest share of the popular vote and is clearly on target to move forwards full majority control of the Council in the future.

"In contrast, the Liberal Democrats lost four seats in the last election and gained none.

"The Tories won two from the Liberal Democrats and lost two to Labour, failing to take any of the Labour wards they had targeted so fiercely in the run-up to the elections.

"I can only conclude that between them they have looked at recent results, recognised that their best interest lies in the new system which could give the Tory leader and his Lib Dem deputy up four years in power, and decided to use the national situation as a smokescreen for naked self interest.

"This must be the ultimate Coalition of Losers".