THE leader of the city council has said Labour has "absolutely no mandate" to lead following a poor performance in the Claines by-election.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, leader of the council's Conservative group and leader of the city council, said Labour's poor performance in Claines showed the city did not want the party running the council.

Labour candidate Saiful Islam received 60 votes in Claines - down from 145 just two months ago.

Cllr Bayliss said; "This is from a party that wants to take the parliamentary seat away from the Conservatives.

"One in 100 people voted for the Labour Party in Claines. What the people are saying is that they do not want a Labour council."

Cllr Adrian Gregson, leader of the council's Labour group and deputy leader of the city council, said the result was a "damning indictment" on the Conservative government and Boris Johnson and was "nothing to do" with Labour's ability to lead.

He said: "It's nice to see another change in Claines and what it demonstrates very clearly what a national disaster the current government is and its new leader.

Cllr Gregson said the council's Conservative leader was "deflecting" from the national government being a "complete mess."

He said: "There is now a majority of non-right wing parties at the council and he should be worried about his own leadership."

Mel Allcott was finally elected for the Liberal Democrats having pushed the Conservatives close in recent years.

Cllr Bayliss congratulated Cllr Allcott on her victory and whilst disappointed by the loss was pleased with the Conservative share of the vote.

He said: "Our vote went up from 44 per cent to 46 per cent. We are obviously really disappointed to lose the seat but I do want to congratulate Mel on her victory. She has stood six times and has shown some real determination.

"It was a hard-fought campaign that just went the wrong way for us. Juliet [Benham] will be back and we will certainly be back in Claines."

The result leaves the Conservatives with 16 councillors, Labour with 15, the Green Party with three and Cllr Allcott as the Lib Dem's sole representative.

Under the council's constitution, the leader of the largest party becomes council leader.

Cllr Bayliss offered to share the leadership with his Labour rival in May but required the backing of all three group leaders.

Cllr Gregson said the plan would be “unconstitutional” and rejected it.

Cllr Bayliss said the offer of co-leadership would remain.

Former Labour MP Mike Foster tweeted: "I have it on reasonable authority that @WorcesterLabour did not campaign; stood a candidate to appear active but wanted the Lib Dems to win in order to take control. Not sure how this helps make the case for @UKLabour at a general election. But the new masters are in charge."