CONSERVATIVE councillors look likely to put the dampeners on a four way cross party "rainbow coalition" deal to run City of York Council.

The Tory group leader has poured cold water on the suggestion that his party's 14 councillors could work with the 12 Liberal Democrats, 15 Labour councillors, and four Greens.

Chris Steward said such a deal would leave the council without crucial direction, and added: "The focus must change to be on frontline services and resident engagement, as well as addressing key issues like combined authorities.

"Equally we do not believe based on their performance over the last four years and the related loss of seats the people of York want the Labour Group to have a lead role in running the council."

The council has been in no overall control since the election last Thursday and despite extensive talks no deal has yet been struck on how it will be run.

The "rainbow alliance" has been championed by the Green councillors and Lib Dems, who say it would reflect the views of voters who elected such a split council, and make sure none were left out of decision making.

Lib Dem leader Keith Aspden said: "Last week's results show that people want change and no one party has a mandate to govern. To reflect this, Liberal Democrat councillors would take part in a rainbow coalition to be formed that involved all four political groups in York. This would give the council stability at this critical time with us all working together to introduce the fundamental change that the city needs.

He added: "Whether this happens or whether an alternative option needs to be considered will be dependent on the other groups. We will work to ensure our key priorities, including fighting for York's Green Belt, are implemented."

Cllr Aspden's opinions contrasted with earlier comments from the Tory group leader who last week said his party had gained a mandate in York by winning the most votes in the council election - even though that did not translate into the most seats.

Green councillor Dave Taylor said the joint deal would make sure the electorate's spread of opinion was reflected.

But Labour leader Dafydd Williams also appeared to spurn the idea, saying it looked "unlikely" and adding that they could not accept a deal without knowing exactly what was proposed.

He added: "We have been in dialogue with all political groups which has been constructive and approached with the right attitude by those involved. I believe a rainbow coalition, something speculated about over recent days, is looking unlikely but we will continue discussions to do everything possible to deliver the best outcome for York residents."

The councillors have until Thursday, May 21 to thrash out a deal, when an annual council meeting will take place and when the law insists they appoint a council leader.

The idea of a rainbow coalition was previously mooted in 2007, after that year's election left the council hung, but Labour blackballed the idea on that occasion.