COUNCILLOR Iain McKenzie will this afternoon be named as the new leader of Inverclyde Council.

An Administration agreement has been signed that will see him step into the role made vacant by Stephen McCabe, who resigned to spend more time with his family.

The new arrangements will be rubber-stamped at a full council meeting later.

In a surprise move, Liberal Councillor George White has agreed to join the Labour-led coalition, giving them a total of 11 members in the 20-seat authority.

The council is currently run by a coalition of eight Labour councillors, Tory David Wilson and Independent Ronnie Ahlfeld.

Mr McKenzie was elected leader of the Labour group last week, and became their candidate to take over at the helm of the local authority.

He said today: "I am delighted we have reached this agreement, which I believe will be in the best interests of the people of Inverclyde.

"It is important that we have stable and effective local government at a time when everyone is facing an uncertain future given the current economic climate.

"We have shown strong leadership until now and I felt it was important to ensure we have continuity and the ability to make decisions to further improve the lives and living standards of our communities in the run up to the council elections in May 2012." The opposition has now been reduced to five SNP councillors, three Liberal Democrats and Independent Charlie McCallum.

Councillors Ronnie Ahlfeld and David Wilson have confirmed their continued membership until local government elections in May 2012, while Councillor White joins the Administration.

Councillor Ahlfeld said: "There has been significant progress in Inverclyde over the past four years with major investments in new leisure facilities, schools and improvements to our town centres. I have been able to play a role in the decision-making progress so far and look forward to carrying on the efforts to transform the area." Councillor Wilson added: "I am proud to have been able to serve Inverclyde as a member of the Administration and to have influenced decisions on investment and funding. By working together, we can begin to deliver on our promises of developing Inverclyde into a thriving and pleasant place to live and work." Councillor White said "This is an opportunity for me to play a more effective role in the decision-making process. Inverclyde has so much potential for business, leisure and families and I am pleased that I will be able to play a more proactive part.

It is unclear if all 20 councillors will attend today's meeting.

Labour's Robert Moran is in hospital recovering from a major operation, and the SNP's Jim Grieve has been unwell and said he will make up his mind today if he is able to attend.