DESPITE rumoured attempts to oust them, the leaders of Swindon’s Conservatives and Labour groups have remained in power.

At separate party meetings held on Monday night, the Tories’ Rod Bluh and Labour leader Derique Montaut managed to hold on to their positions at the top.

It was speculated that both leaders were going to be contested for the role, but they were happy to announce yesterday that they will be staying on as leaders.

Coun Montaut said he stood unopposed and had the backing of his entire party. He also said he would offer the hand of friendship to council leader Bluh and try to bury their differences.

He said: “I am honoured and humbled that my fellow Labour councillors have entrusted me to be their leader for another year.

“It’s all about the budget. Focusing on the budget is so pivotal, not only because Swindon Council needs to ensure that it delivers value for money for its council tax payers, but also because we need to ensure that their money is going to the right areas, like those services that protect the vulnerable.

“I would like to extend a hand of friendship to the Conservative group leader.

“I know that last year was difficult to get genuine bipartisanship due to the wi-fi issue, however we need to make sure that wherever we can, we have a close working relationship that generates the confidence of the people of Swindon.

“I’m sure the leader of the council would agree with me that party allegiances don’t come in to it when you’re fighting for the interests of Swindon residents.”

As well as saying how delighted he was to be elected as leader for the fifth year, Coun Bluh paid tribute to former deputy leader Fionuala Foley who has stepped down to be replaced by Garry Perkins.

Coun Bluh also saw off an attempt by Nick Martin to topple him as Conservative leader.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be given this job again.

“We have a lot of work to do in the year ahead and there will be substantial regeneration in the next 12 months. Early indications show that Swindon will be leading the UK out of the recession.

“There are about 400 appointments that now need to be made within the council and we will be deciding the new cabinet within the next week.

“After four years working closely with Fionuala this is a watershed and Garry has a tough act to follow.”