Tories and Lib Dems take seats on council’s Executive

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PENDLE Council will be run by an Executive comprised of six Conservative and four Liberal Democrat councillors for the next two years.

This was agreed at Thursday night’s annual council meeting after members threw out a proposal by the Labour group that they should take control of the authority as they had polled the most votes in the elections earlier this month.

The Conservatives and Labour both currently have 18 councillors and the Liberal Democrats 12.

Opening the debate, Coun. David Whalley said there had been an overwhelming vote in favour of Labour at the elections and proposed Coun. Mohammed Iqbal as council leader.

Labour had polled roughly 9,500 votes, the Tories 6,700 and The Liberal Democrats 5,500, he said

Seconding, Coun. Robert Allen said the council was facing a challenging time and needed someone with real experience to run the administration.

The Labour group then called for a named vote and saw their motion defeated by 30 votes to 18.

The Conservatives then put forward Coun. Joe Cooney as the new leader, which was accepted. Coun. John David will be the new deputy leader.

Proposing Coun. Cooney, Coun. Tony Beckett said he had never heard a better argument for propotional representation than that made by Coun. Whalley.

Explaining why the Liberal Democrats had decided to join with the Conservatives, Coun. David Whipp said: “Anyone who knows me will know I am slightly left leaning and I am certainly no friend of the Tories.

“But since May 3rd, in the meetings we had with the Labour group, it was clear they had no vision, no directive and no drive on what they wanted to do.

“I could have wasted my time better watching TV rather than listening to nothing and it does not make it difficult for me to reject the offer from the Labour group.”

In a statement issued at the meeting, the two groups said: “We have a list of shared objectives for the next 12 months but have not signed a coalition agreement.

“While the two leaders have committed to working to find agreed approaches on each issue that arises for the benefit of continuity in the borough, both have retained the right to promote their distinctive policies and seek support elsewhere on the council on those occasions where this is not possible.”

The groups said their priorities in the next year would be:

l To prepare for next year’s budget by conducting a root and branch review of all aspects of council spending while protecting all front line services.

l To make every effort to ensure the council’s local plan is established within 12 months without detracting from the environment.

l To make substantial improvements n the control of dog waste and litter.

l To strive for substantial extra economic development and employment.

l To increase the public’s awareness of the council’s activities and successes.

l To begin the process of establishing a thriving estate at Brierfield Mills.

l To ensure all parts of the borough receive an equitable share of all the resources.

l To reduce the number of empty homes in the borough.

l To improve further the success of the Community Safety partnership.

l To investigate further appropriate devolution of decision making to area committees.

The new Executive members are Conservative Couns Joe Cooney, Tony Beckett, Paul White, James Starkie, Linda Crossley and Chris Tennant and Liberal Democrat Couns John David, Tony Greaves, Nadeem Ahmed and David Whipp.

There are no Pendle Council elections next year and a review of the shared Executive will be carried out in May next year.