Party negotiations to continue as Full Council date approaches

While parties continue to discuss and debate cabinet and committee roles in the wake of the local elections on May 4, the clock is ticking down towards the first Full Council meeting for the electoral year.

The Full Council meeting is scheduled for next week (May 24), with the formal election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to take place, followed by a Cabinet meeting confirming membership of the various committees.

Former Deputy Mayor Cllr Hugh Patterson (Liberal Democrat) is expected to be elected Mayor, and Cllr Nick Pope (Alliance), Deputy Mayor.

However, at the time of writing, the makeup of the new Council was still under discussion, with no single party having achieved a majority. However, the Liberal Democrats cemented their position as the largest party.

With 17 out of 48 councillors, the Lib Dems could achieve a majority with either the Alliance (11) or Labour (8), but the Times understands that all three parties are involved in negotiations.

The three parties, and an Independent, Cllr Rodney Atkins, had previously formed the Borough Partnership following the 2022 election, which left the Council under No Overall Control.

In a statement released immediately after this year’s election results, the Lib Dems announced their intention to “commence discussions with other parties on possible configurations to create a stable majority on the Council”.

All previous Cabinet portfolio and committee chair positions are still listed for the currently elected council members on the TWBC website.

And Labour group leader Cllr Hugo Pound confirmed late last week that his group were involved in negotiations over cabinet and committee roles, but that he “assumed” he would keep his responsibility for housing and planning.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the discussions so far, Alliance chairman Cllr Pope said only: “We are working through all of that.”

He added: “It’s a bit like herding cats with three parties involved.”

“All parties increased their share, so the division could be much the same,” he said.

Traditionally, such roles are allocated according to the relative size of parties in a coalition or partnership.

The recent election saw six councillors standing down, including cabinet member Luke Everitt (Labour), who held the portfolio for Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem Trevor Poile was the chairman of the Planning Committee.

The first formal outing of the new Council is set for May 24 at 10am.

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