Just ten days after the Tory-Lib Dem government was unceremoniously disbanded by the Westminster electorate, the same partnership is being tried in York.
The Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups are to join forces to run City of York Council after the local election left no one party with a majority.
Tory leader Chris Steward will become leader of the council. His Lib Dem counterpart Keith Aspden becomes deputy leader.
The new council executive will consist of four Conservatives and four Lib Dems. This move will be authorised at the annual council meeting on Thursday (May 21).
What they said
Cllr Steward said the arrangement would “give direction and focus for York’s council”.
“This will also be an administration that engages with and listens to residents and we will respect the views of other parties.
The Labour and Green groups had been “offered a seat at the executive table” to give their input Cllr Steward said.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Aspden said the election proved “that residents wanted change from the way Labour has run York since 2011”.
The new administration would “put the priorities of residents first”. He said:
Yearsley Pool will be kept open and the services offered at Castlegate will be protected. We are also ruling out further charges for green bins and cuts to the frequency of grey bin collections.
They have also pledged to put a new governance system in place to ensure “decision-making is done in public with transparency and cross-party input”. You can read the full agreement here (PDF).
Policy – what’s in and what’s out
The coalition has agreed a 12-point plan which “seeks to provide stable leadership and puts the needs of residents first before narrow political interest”.
So what’s in and what’s out?
In: Green Belt
“We will prepare an evidence-based Local Plan which delivers much needed housing whilst focusing development on brownfield land and taking all practical steps to protect the Green Belt and the character of York.”
In: More bin collections
The coalition pledges to reintroduce additional winter green bin garden waste collections and cancel Labour/Green budget plans to introduce further charges.
There will be no cuts to the frequency of grey bin collections.
In: Yearsley Pool
The new administration will “focus resources into frontline services” to ensure the under threat swimming pool stays open.
Increased spending on “road repairs, streetlights, gulley cleaning and litter bins” is another pledge.
In: the Living Wage
“We will support the Living Wage, support voluntary organisations and develop financial inclusion work with measurable outcomes.”
In: Ward committees
Ward committees are to make a comeback, supported by “a very significant increase in funding so that communities can make greater decisions about local services”.
Out: Guildhall as digital media arts centre – and other ‘vanity projects’
A plan to turn York’s historic Guildhall into a £9 million digital media arts centre has been dropped. The new administration promises to:
In: 29 Castlegate
A recommendation to close the drop-in centre for vulnerable young people, 29 Castlegate, will be reversed – although the location may change.
“The services currently provided by the Castlegate Centre will continue to be provided at a suitable city centre location that is not West Offices,” says the statement.
The new council leaders also pledge:
- to continue to support Children’s Centres, youth services, and apprenticeships in partnership with local businesses;
- extra support to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Out: More 20mph funding
The council will “support rural bus services and in communities where they are needed”. But there will be “no further expenditure on blanket 20mph project”.
In: Local business support
This promise is to “ensure that local businesses are adequately supported by helping them bid for council contracts and cutting red tape”.
And there will be “work to ensure that York gets a better deal from regional partners”.
In: Value for money
The new administration will:
As well as their pledge on bin collections, the coalition has a two point pledge to reverse the decline in recycling. They promise to:
- Work with residents and commit to an aim of increasing recycling to 50% through extra investment;
- Develop a long-term plan to cut the council’s carbon emissions and re-establish a Green Jobs Task Group.
In: Health and social care review
The 12th and final coalition pledge…
A spokesperson for the Labour group, which had run the council since 2011, said they would issue a response on Tuesday (May 19).
Green Party leader Andy D’Agorne, who saw his councillors double to four in the last election, said that it was “a big disappointment that the opportunity to build a cross party administration that reflects the views of voters has been lost, because the two largest parties (Labour and Conservatives) are not prepared to compromise in the interests of York and its people”.
We will work with the new administration on areas where we agree and will welcome the strengthened ward based focus and commitment to focus on limiting expansion into the Greenbelt.
However we will continue to push for an independently chaired expert advised commission to come up with solutions to the challenges of congestion and traffic pollution in York.
With 26 seats between them – 14 Tories and 12 Lib Dems – they comfortably outnumber the party with the most number of seats, Labour with 15.
Even if the former leader of the council, Labour’s Dafydd Williams, were to form an alliance with the four Greens and two independents it would still only add up to 21 votes.
|Liberal Democrats||12 seats||3|
|Green||4 seats||2||Independent||2 seats||3|