SOUTHEND Tory boss Tony Cox has threatened to step in to run the council, which he says is “about as stable as deck chair on the Titanic”.

Mr Cox’s jibe comes after former coalition member Paul Van Looy spectacularly quit the independent group, claiming too many of the ruling coalition were given positions simply to “boost their egos”.

The top Tory had briefly led a minority Conservative administration following the elections in May but was ousted weeks later by a coalition of Labour, Lib Dems and independents.

That alliance claimed Southend residents no longer wanted the Tories in power and the administration would not have stability.

But Mr Cox said: “Councillor Van Looy echoed many of our thoughts from when they took over the administration.

“We said egos were involved, we were concerned this was about money for a lot of people and it is beginning to show. They said that under a minority Conservative administration it would be unstable but we are only just over two months in and they’ve already lost someone.

“I would suggest the current administration is about as stable as a deck chair on the Titanic after hitting the iceberg.”

He went on to criticise the coalition’s lack of new ideas, accusing them of simply picking up policies which had originally been proposed by the Conservatives, including reinstating one-hour parking in the town centre and boosting the powers of the community safety team.

He added: “It has been pretty uninspiring.

“We said from the outset that we would give the opposition space to form an administration. At first they couldn’t agree on what day of the week it was, let alone who would be leader but they seem to have patched up that lover’s tiff and formed an administration.

He added: “We said we would respect [the administration] and that is why I did not put my name forward as leader when there was a vote of no confidence in our administration.

“However, if we find ourselves in a position where they can’t work together then we will do what any sensible opposition would do and try to step in. But we won’t actively pursue anything.”

Deputy leader Ron Woodley hit back at the Tory.

He said: “It’s a shame Councillor Cox has to refer to a major disaster that resulted in a severe loss of life. We are stable and he would be surprised at our vision and the plans that are being developed.”

“I am working on a new highways strategy, Councillor Carole Mulroney will be bringing forward an environmental strategy and Councillor Ian Gilbert and myself are also looking to improve housing and social care.”

He also defended the delay in new plans coming forward, pointing to the summer break and they had to “pick up the pieces” from the previous Conservative administrations.