Talks underway to establish new coalition to run City of York Council

Top team… the York Liberal Democrats celebrate becoming the largest party on the city council. Photograph: York Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats won the most seats in the City of York Council elections last Thursday – but not enough to take a majority.

The group now has 21 councillors, three short of the 24 needed to secure overall control of the council.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said the group were “talking to other parties” about opportunities to form a coalition.

One possibility could be teaming up with the Green Party, which held on to its four seats in York.

The Green Party is in the market for the idea. “York Greens have always shown that we want to cooperate for the common good,” said group leader Andy D’Agorne.

“We are happy to talk with everyone on how to bring York together again and embrace the challenges of our time.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group Keith Aspden, who was re-elected to his ward Fulford and Heslington for the fifth time, said he was “honoured” by the result.

He added:

  • The Liberal Democrats are back as an option for residents not just here in York but across the country, where people do not trust the mess that the Labour and Conservative parties are making of everything.

    I think the most important thing for Liberal Democrat candidates in York is our work within our local communities.

Tories ‘took a battering’

Former councillor Stuart Rawlings
However, the Conservative group in York took a “battering”, in the words of its deputy leader Stuart Rawlings, who failed to get re-elected to his seat in Rawcliffe and Clifton Without.

The group, which had won 14 seats in the 2015 local elections, saw just two councillors elected this time around – Paul Doughty was re-elected to his ward in Strensall, and Martin Rowley is a new councillor for Osbaldwick and Derwent.

The Liberal Democrats took all three former Conservative seats in Rawcliffe and Clifton Without.

The group also took two seats off the Conservatives in Haxby and Wigginton, and both seats in Rural West York.

In Acomb, the seat formerly held by Conservative Lord Mayor elect Keith Myers was won by Labour’s Katie Lomas.

National issues blamed

Stuart Rawlings said that he felt unfortunately national politics had influenced the local elections.

But he added he was proud of what his party had achieved in the past four years in York. He said:

  • The Conservatives have taken a battering across the country. We were seen as the party in Government and could have produced on the Brexit agreement.

    It was always an uphill challenge. Local elections should be fought on local issues, not national ones. That hasn’t happened.

    We have done some really big things for the city. We have achieved an awful lot in the past four years so I can’t believe it’s not national issues.

He added that the group will now focus on rebuilding and look to the future.

Labour increased its number of seats on the council from 13 to 17, and three independent councillors were also elected.

The final results were: Liberal Democrats 21, Labour 17, Green Party four, independents three and Conservatives two.

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