NEGOTIATIONS are continuing between senior Tories and Liberal Democrats in a bid to ensure a new City of York Council leader can be appointed tomorrow night.

An extraordinary meeting has been called for 6.30pm on Thursday, March 8, to fill the post of leader, which has been vacant since the resignation of David Carr on February 22 - with Lib Dem Andrew Waller acting as interim leader for the past fortnight.

Cllr Carr, who had previously been ousted as Conservative group leader, announced when he resigned that he and another councillor, Suzie Mercer, were also quitting the Tory group and party to become Independents.

The move left the Tories and Lib Dems with 12 councillors each, allowing them to continue operating as a coalition for the remaining 18 months of the council but also opening up the possibility that the next leader might be a Lib Dem.

Cllr Ian Gillies, who has replaced Cllr Carr as Conservative leader, did not get enough votes last month to become council leader, but a source said the Lib Dems were now prepared to see him become leader and were focussing instead on other issues, such as the make-up of the rest of the executive.

One such issue might be whether two Lib Dems controversially sacked from the executive by Cllr Carr - Keith Aspden and Nigel Ayre - might be reinstated under the new leader.

Cllr Waller would not comment on such matters, saying instead simply that progress was being made and negotiations between two teams of Tories and Lib Dems were continuing.

He said the loss of two Conservative members had changed the dynamic of the relationship between the two parties and his aim was to ensure there was a "stable conclusion to the current position".

Cllr Gillies said he expected to be nominated as leader again but would never make any assumptions in such a situation.

Labour group leader Janet Looker said she hoped an agreement would be reached between the Tories and Lib Dems by the time of the meeting so it did not descend into chaos and lead to a further waste of councillors’ time.