THERE was confusion today over the leadership of Bournemouth Council after Cllr Peter Charon lost a vote of no confidence brought by his Conservative colleagues last night.

At a private meeting of the 47-strong Tory group at the Town Hall, the motion was carried "by a clear majority," according to one councillor.

The debate lasted three and a half hours.

At the end of the meeting Cllr Charon resigned as Tory group leader, but will stay as leader of the council until February 21. Deputy council leader, John Beesley, has taken over as acting Conservative group leader for the moment.

Cllt Charon said: "I am doing things in an orderly way so as not to leave things up in the air. There is process to go through and only the council can appoint a new leader."

He can still chair meetings of the cabinet if he want to. The Conservatives will now select a new group leader who will then be nominated as the next council leader full council meeting.

Cllr Charon, who became leader when Stephen MacLoughlin resigned in 2010, led the Tories to a landslide victory in the borough elections last year, but fellow Tories became increasingly unhappy with his leadership style and a confidence move had been expected for some while.

Cllr Bob Chapman, who proposed the motion said he was pleased with the result.

"There was a general consensus that his leadership style was rather abrasive."

Many backbenchers believed Charon had resigned as leader at the same time.

Deputy leader John Beesley told the Echo: "There may be some misunderstandings.

Cllr Beesley said a new Conservative leader would be appointed at a group meeting on February 13, ahead of the full council meeting on February 21.

Full story and reaction in tomorrow's Echo.