THE future direction of a council looks set to be settled before the weekend following residents overturning a Conservative majority on a local authority serving a population of just under 54,000 people across an area of 509 square miles.

Talks between local politicians were last night ongoing after the leadership of Richmondshire District Council was thrown into of a state of no overall control today after no party took a majority at last week’s elections.

Councillors said they had been dismayed that as few as 35 per cent of the electorate turned out to cast their vote in the first election since a Local Government Boundary Commission review reduced the number of councillors on the authority from 34 to 24.

The political make-up of the council, which had included 21 Conservative members, now features ten Independents, ten Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats, and one Green.

Following talks over the weekend, it is understood the Liberal Democrat members are close to forming a block with the Green Party councillor Kevin Foster.

It is also believed that while the Liberal Democrats have been approached by the Conservative group with a view to talking about forming a coalition, this is far less likely than them an alliance with the Independent group members.

The leader of the Independents, Councillor Stuart Parsons said whatever the outcome of the talks, the authority’s next leadership would seek to serve the majority rather than a minority of residents.

He said: “We will not be doing a Theresa May on this and plan to be completely open and straightforward from day one.”

Cllr Parsons said the leadership of the council was “not on my personal wish list”, but that it would “depend on what everybody wants”.

He added councillors had until the first full meeting of the authority on May 21 to decide their allegiances. Cllr Parsons said: “The Independents are not following a party political process. All sorts of ideas can come through.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Clive World declined to reveal how the party would align itself, but said it would continue to promote green issues, such as fly-tipping and recycling, in the next council, alongside policies regarding housing provision.

He said: “We are looking forward to having more say than we have had for the last few years.”