THE opposition on Tendring Council has lost its bid to seize control of the authority.

A coalition led by Tendring First tried to grab power from the Conservatives at an emergency meeting tonight.

They sparked outrage by making the controversial power play after the death of Tory councillor Charlie Sambridge suddenly handed them the narrowest of majorities in the town hall chamber.

Opposition parties called the emergency meeting before the Tories had the chance to take the vacant seat at a next week's crunch by-election.

They failed to depose council chairman Nick Turner and cabinet leaders and replace them with their own party members.

Mr Turner said he had sought outside legal advice from a barrister following which he decided not to allow any of the items on the agenda to be discussed.

He closed the meeting after only three minutes.

“I alone am the custodian of the democratic process of this council,” he told councillors.

David Lines, leader of the Tendring First-led opposition, said the decision not to discuss the items was against the constitution.

“What has happened tonight is unlawful in my view and that seems to be supported by what I have heard from council officers.

“I was expecting stone-walling and that the chairman would use any means that he could find to prevent the lawful democratic process.

Neil Stock, council leader, said: “We have taken legal advice from the council’s legal team and our own private advice from a barrister and are confident the decision we have taken is the right one.

“The chairman’s decision was in the best interest of the district.

“The temporary vacancy caused by the by-election will be resolved next week and as I have said if we lose I will resign and there will be a dignified hand over.”