OPPOSITION councillors have slammed a "stitch-up" that left Doncaster Council's second-largest party out in the cold when important committee jobs were dished out this week.

And one councillor has quit his party in disgust at a voting pact that left the Liberal Democrats and Alliance of Independent Members without a chairman or vice-chairman between them on Doncaster Council's nine main committees.

Coun Garth Oxby this week jumped ship from the Community Group to the Independents, accusing his former leader Coun Martin Williams of striking a deal with Labour and the Conservatives to secure political influence.

Coun Oxby said: "I have left the Community Group because I just cannot work under a leadership that keeps changing direction. I was more than patient."

A series of votes at Monday's annual meeting of the council saw Labour take five of the 17 jobs on offer while the Conservatives won eight positions. But the big winners were the Community Group, who took four positions - despite having only five councillors following Coun Oxby's defection.

The Lib Dems and Independents, who between them have 21 seats on the council, failed to find support for any of their candidates for the positions on offer.

Liberal Democrat group deputy leader Coun Eric Tatton-Kelly said: "We are not happy. We are the main party of opposition, we have 12 councillors and we were elected to hold Labour to account.

"Both the Tories and the Community Group voted consistently throughout the meeting with Labour, so you can hardly count them as opposition parties. I am frankly quite astounded to see the Tories, of all people, voting with Labour and I would love to know what Tory supporters make of it."

And Coun Georgina Mullis (Ind) added: "The whole meeting was just a stitch-up. Every time the Lib Dems or the Alliance of Independent Members put anyone forward for a position, it was voted down."

Coun Williams admitted having talks with the Conservatives and Labour before the meeting but said neither the Lib Dems nor Independents had tried to make contact with him since the mayoral election.

He told the Free Press: "As far as I am concerned I was only playing the cards I was dealt. We had to have some discussions with Labour because otherwise, if we did not actively fight our corner, Labour would have ended up with everything."

Asked about Coun Oxby crossing the floor, Coun Williams said: "People come and go if they want - that's politics. I wish him the best of luck and as far as I am concerned there are no hard feelings between us."

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