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Greens anger as Independents and Lib Dems set to join Conservatives in Babergh coalition

PUBLISHED: 14:01 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:01 20 May 2019

The cabinet for Babergh District Council is starting to take shape. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The cabinet for Babergh District Council is starting to take shape. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Existing Babergh District Council leader John Ward looks set to stay on in the top job with the council, as a clearer picture of the new cabinet starts to take shape.

John Ward said the cabinet would represent the experience across the chamber. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJohn Ward said the cabinet would represent the experience across the chamber. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Conservative John Ward took over as leader in early 2018 from Jennie Jenkins at the authority.

The Conservative group had a majority heading into the local elections earlier this month, but while remaining the largest party it did lose overall control.

The group was only two short of an overall majority, with Mr Ward expected to offer two Independents cabinet positions.

But it now appears that in order to represent the broader make-up of the council, the cabinet will now feature four Conservatives, three Independents and a Liberal Democrat.

No names have been announced yet, but the formal declarations of a council chairman, leader and cabinet members are due to take place on Wednesday.

Mr Ward said: "Clearly there is no majority group now, albeit we are the largest minority group.

"We need to put together an administration that's representative as far as possible.

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"[It will be] A partnership administration drawing on the talents across the chamber because there are some experienced people from across the chamber."

Mr Ward pointed to some of the key challenges ahead - the formation of a joint local plan with Mid Suffolk District Council which will inform future housing in the districts and a medium term financial plan - as being key for securing agreement from all sides.

He added: "It's going to need agreement from everybody pulling together to address these problems, and the cabinet I am going to be able to put together will be fit for purpose."

Following the election, the 32 seats are comprised of 15 Conservatives, eight Independents, four Greens, three Lib Dems and two Labour councillors.

But the proposed new cabinet structure has left the Green group unhappy.

"Greens have four out of 32 seats, i.e. one eighth of the council and we should therefore have a seat in cabinet," said Green councillor Robert Lindsay, who turned down the 'climate champion' post because it had "no teeth".

"Excluding the third largest group on the council, and including the fourth, is undemocratic, unfair and illogical.

"In the election in Babergh 23% or just under one in four people voted Green.

"It is this kind of 'we know best' approach that is making people disillusioned with our democratic system."

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