AN independent councillor whose vote handed control of Carlisle City Council to the Conservatives has explained why he made the choice.

The knife-edge vote saw Tory John Mallinson named leader of the authority, ahead of Labour’s Colin Glover.

There was just one vote in it, with the three other independents siding with Labour.

However Jeff Bomford, one of the three independents, re-elected to represent Botcherby and North Harraby ward, decided to back Mr Mallinson - a move that has seen him dubbed the ‘king maker’ by some.

Mr Bomford told the News & Star that he wasn’t happy with the previous Labour-run administration and felt Carlisle needed a change.

“At the end of the day I always vote. I never abstain, so I had a choice of the two. It was down to the wire,” he said.

“I looked at the running of the council in the time I’ve been on and I felt stronger that there needed a change in leadership. A change of the whole administration. That was the foundation for my reasoning.

“I’m happy with the result. We did need change. Now we will see if he takes this opportunity to make good change.”

The local elections on May 2 saw a number of high profile councillors lose their seats following boundary changes.

With just 39 council seats available, no party secured the 20 needed for a majority

The Conservatives won 17 and Labour 15, with one Liberal Democrat, one Green, one Ukip and four independents left to determine which party should take minority control.

Going into yesterday’s first full council since the election, neither the Tories nor Labour had managed to strike a formal deal with the others.

Instead both parties waited with bated breath to see who each would vote for on the day.

The knife-edge vote - which had to be repeated after the first result was unclear - saw new Green councillor Helen Davison back Labour’s Mr Glover, along with independents Rob Betton, Jack Paton and Ray Tinnion.

Lib Dem Trevor Allison and new Ukip councillor John Denholm backed Mr Mallinson, taking it to 19 votes each, with Mr Bomford tipping the balance in favour of the Tories.

The move was a shock to many in the council chamber, including Mr Mallinson.

Speaking afterwards, the new leader said: “I’m delighted and surprised. It went right to the wire. I had no idea how it was going to go.”

He went on to stress that he would take into account the views of the whole electorate, not just his party.

“I’m here for the whole of the city, for everyone in Carlisle.

“The only promise I can make at this stage is that I will do my very best, and intend to be an incredibly inclusive leader,” he explained.

Outgoing leader Mr Glover said he was disappointed, but knew the vote would be close.

“We knew that with five votes short of a majority, it was an uphill battle,” he said.

“It was a case of waiting to see who put their hands in the air during the vote. We hoped we could do it but it wasn’t to be. It was extremely close.”

Mr Glover added: “I felt the Labour group has done some incredible things for the city since 2012. We had a bold vision and haven’t been afraid to make difficult decisions to push the city forward.

“In opposition we now need to keep that vision at the forefront of our minds and make sure we keep pushing, to deliver for Carlisle.”

Following the meeting, Mr Bomford came in for some behind-the-scenes criticism from Labour supporters after backing the Tories. One told the News & Star that the vote share in his Botcherby/North Harraby ward showed very little Conservative support.

But Mr Bomford said: “They have voted for independents, not Labour. If it was a Labour ward, there would be Labour councillors elected in it.”