Leader Report and Statement – May 2018

Statement following the 2018 Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council Elections 2018

“The local elections have left Newcastle with no party having overall control.

Nationally the Liberal Democrats are showing signs of recovery, having won some important elections, so it is important for us to establish ourselves locally as an independent liberal minded party as opposed to hard right Tories and Socialist Labour.

We will therefore not vote for either a Labour or Conservative leader at the Full Council meeting this week. We will be listening to all proposals from both sides of the chamber and voting on their merits, in accordance with liberal tradition, but more importantly for the benefit of Newcastle residents.

We believe the two main parties and the minority groups, should be working together to solve the many issues in Newcastle, we are not interested in four years of cross party squabbles.

Our wish would be a cross party Cabinet working together, to move forward this loyal and ancient Borough.”

Report from the Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader following the first full council meeting after the 2018 Borough Council Elections

Exciting, but difficult times ahead for the Liberal Democrat group.

Election result being Labour 20 seats

Conservatives 18 seats

Borough Independent group 3 seats( they supported the Conservatives to form an administration.)

Liberal Democrat group 3 seats.

“The Council now has 44 Councillors, a reduction from 60 previously, with new boundary changes for several wards. A very different feel already within the Council, I dare say our pending move to the new civic offices will be another big step, one some of us are very apprehensive about, not least because of lack of space. Pleased to report there is now a Mayors parlour, albeit small, but that is something we as Liberal Democrats have fought hard for, for some time. The Guildhall is our next area of interest.

We decided to abstain from the vote to elect a Leader and Cabinet, as we want to be able to vote every time on the merit of the proposals before us, and we were not entirely happy with either manifestos for change. As you will see if the Borough independents vote with the tories, as they may well do, we have balance of power!  Our vote is very important to both major parties and it is quite interesting what they are willing to negotiate for support! However it is a very unstable administration which can be voted down at every stage of decision making.

The couple of weeks following the elections were very interesting as both parties were almost asking us to name what we wanted, Ian Wilkes our Councillor in Audley, has been elected Chair of the Health Scrutiny committee, and I will be vice chair of planning at my request. I felt I have enough on my plate being leader, and I am very much in demand to negotiate the best deal for residents.

June, Ian and I will be watching carefully what the Conservatives implement, particularly what they will review in terms of their street scene cuts which we will not be supported unless they amend their proposals. Likewise we will be looking carefully at Labours proposals over unitary authorities, we do not believe Newcastle is big enough to stand alone and run services and we will not support proposals to join with Stoke.

However there does need to be tightening up in some areas of unnecessary spending, we need a more efficient recycling system, but if the tories implement co mingled collections, not sure that is our preference. My view is the quality of goods is inferior so market rate drops, but it is less complicated and cheaper to run, a balancing trick needed. I believe the present system works if we do more work on collection runs, purchase another vehicle as a back up vehicle, and look again at how we collect from flats and narrow streets. Maybe we need to also look at where we drop of the material to, long way to depot if you are on the boundaries of the Borough and your vehicle is full!

We still await news of our suspended CEO, investigation is not yet complete, but under the acting CEO, election timetable seemed to run more smoothly, despite some of us feeling officers were overzealous about rules this year.

Whilst we are doing well locally we need to keep our eyes fixed on the national scene, some good results recently, there is some evidence of a comeback, albeit a long process. More to be done on the environment we feel.

My final plea is to be as active locally as possible, activists are small in number and we need more if we are too progress our local party, please do talk to our chair Nigel Jones, or to myself if you want to know how you can help. I suspect because Council numbers are tight within the various parties, there may be we some important bi elections over the next four years, we need to be ready, who knows there might even be a general election!”

Marion Reddish – May 2018

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Date21st May 2018  Author  CategoryNews