Thurrock Council has a new Conservative leader Rob Gledhill after a knife-edge vote between the Tories and Ukip at last night’s annual council.

Mr Gledhill wrestled the leadership from the Ukip challenger with 18 out of a possible 49 votes, whereas Ukip party leader Graham Snell got 17 votes.

The vote means the Conservatives are officially 'in control' of the council, even if the balance of power hangs by only one vote.

The leadership became available after Mr Kent formally announced his resignation to the Hall at the meeting at the Civic Offices in Grays.

Mr Gledhill said cleaning up the borough by tackling the scourge of flytipping and litter would be his administration’s number one priority.

He also said the Conservative party would take no Chairs of Scrutiny groups, and that each new motion would pass through scrutiny groups before making it to full council.

After the meeting, Mr Gledhill said he was “pleased” but aware the hard work had only just begun.

He said: “It’s good – it’s been hard work to get here. But the hard work isn’t over, the hard part has only just begun.”

“I have got ideas for change and I want to make sure that they start to happen.”

Mr Gledhill, who is the councillor for the Little Thurrock ward, had spoken to the Gazette on Tuesday about his ‘confidence’ in winning the vote.

The prediction he would win came hot on the heels of Mr Kent’s shock revelation on Monday in an LBC interview that he intended to resign.

Last night, the decisive “kingmaker” vote for the Conservatives to lead the hung council was cast by Independent councillor Colin Churchman.

Thurrock Council has effectively two ‘largest parties’ on the council since the May 5 local elections, with Ukip and the Conservatives on 17 seats each.

Reacting to concerns about running a hung council, the new Conservative leader said: “I don’t think it will be difficult to get things through. There’s only a one vote difference between us, but this is all about consensual politics.”

“It’s much easier to get things through when you are not stuck by party lines – you can have a grown up conversation.”

The Conservatives have appointed a new Cabinet to run the Council, the new portfolio holders are:

Councillor Brian Little will be the portfolio holder for Transport and Highways.

Councillor Sue Little will be the portfolio holder for Social Care, Child and Adult.

Councillor Garry Hague is the new Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for Business.

Councillor James Halden is the new portfolio holder for Health and Education.

Councillor Shane Hebb is the new portfolio holder for Finance and Central Services.

Councillor Deborah Stewart is the new portfolio holder for Performance and Communities.

Councillor Pauline Tolsen is the new portfolio holder for Environment.

Council Leader Rob Gledhill is the new portfolio holder for Housing.

Councillor Mark Coxshall is the new portfolio holder for Regeneration.