Labour and Lib Dems agree to share power on Pendle Council
Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors have drawn up a 30 point plan for Pendle Council as the basis for joint working at the no-overall-control authority.
Labour leader Coun. Mohammed Iqbal is set to be appointed leader of the council with Lib Dem Coun. David Whipp appointed deputy leader at the annual meeting of the council on Thursday.
One of the Lib Dems' "red lines" in agreeing to work with Labour was a commitment to withdraw from talks to create a Pennine unitary authority with Burnley, Blackburn and Rossendale, which Labour has agreed to do.
A controversial contract with a private company to issue litter fines in Pendle will also be "reviewed as a matter of urgency".
The agreement followed meetings between all three groups on the council after the Conservatives lost overall control at the local elections. Pendle Council’s committee system means that all three parties will play a part in its running.
Coun. Iqbal said: “The council is in the face of savage funding cuts by the government facing an uphill struggle to maintain services for the people of Pendle.
"I believe a Labour led council working with the Liberal Democrats will ensure we protect our vital front-line services and make every effort to create additional opportunities for businesses to relocate into Pendle creating much needed well paid employment.
"We will also look at the earliest opportunity to reverse the increase in cemetery charges brought in by the previous Conservative administration. I promise over the next 12 months to work with all parties on the council and local people for a brighter future for Pendle."
The two groups have agreed common ground in the fight to save local services in the face of draconian central government cuts, maximising housing development on brownfield sites, dealing with rogue landlords and improving administration of Disabled Facilities Grants.
The agreement also prioritises work to support town centres throughout Pendle, with investment planned for Barnoldswick, Colne and Nelson. Funding for a flood relief scheme in Earby is a top priority and the two groups want to strengthen the council’s response to climate change.
Proposals pushed through by the Conservatives with their single vote majority in the previous 12 months will be reversed as a result of the agreement.
Pendle Council will withdraw from a proposed East Lancashire Unitary Authority and drop plans for the ‘financial folly’ of selling off the council’s Number One Market Street building. The contract with a private company for issuing litter fines will be reviewed as a matter of urgency and the controversial development of land at Essex Street, Colne, will be dropped.
The agreement also includes renewing all-party working arrangements which were scrapped by the Conservatives last year and the Conservative group are invited to appoint ‘lead members’ to work with the rest of the councillor leadership team.
Coun. Whipp, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said, “We have had friendly talks with both Labour and the Conservatives. On balance, my group has decided that we’ll be able to achieve more through an arrangement with Labour.
"We’ve come to a broad agreement on a wide range of council issues – this will benefit all parts of Pendle during the next twelve months. It does reverse decisions on some Conservative initiatives – including the financial folly of flogging off Number One Market Street.
“With a balanced council, it’s important to achieve consensus and we will all have to accept compromises. This agreement is a good start. I’m looking forward to working with councillors from all groups to get the very best we can for Pendle residents this next year.”