Waveney: Council stalemate as parties fail to agree deal

THE battle for control of Waveney District Council is in chaos today as the two main parties remained deadlocked over who should run the authority.

Last Friday the Conservatives lost overall control of Waveney and ended up with the same number of seats as Labour – 23 – which resulted in a hung council.

Because no party has an overall majority it is unclear which group will shape the way the council is run and how its essential services are operated.

Conservative leader Mark Bee has invited his Labour rivals to form a joint administration for the good of Waveney. However, the new Labour group leader, Julian Swainson, has refused the offer.

Mr Swainson says his party could not work with the Tories because the Conservatives had lost their political mandate from the electorate and the two parties’ policies were too opposed.

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It means the two remaining councillors, Independent Peter Collecott and Graham Elliott, of the Green Party, have become kingmakers.

And on May 25 the two councillors will have to choose a chairman who will be given the casting vote which would either be used to support Tory or Labour plans to form an administration.

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The Conservatives have enlisted the support of Mr Collecott, who represents the Oulton Ward, while Labour say Mr Elliott, of the North Beccles ward, will support them in the quest to shape council policy although he will not form an official coalition with them.

Yesterday Mr Bee, who will step down on May 25 as leader to become county council leader, said the political uncertainty could have been avoided if Labour had accepted his round-the-table offer of having a joint cabinet, with Mr Collecott becoming chairman.

“I believe it would have been a pragmatic and innovative way forward. The offer is still on the table,” he said

But Mr Swainson said: “It is difficult to see how realistic it would be for both Labour and the Conservatives to run the administration.”

Mr Elliott said he had telephone conversations with both party leaders and decided to support a minority Labour administration while remaining independent of it.

Mr Collecott said he supported the Conservatives as it would bring stability to the council.

On Wednesday the Tories will choose their new leader and on May 25 the first meeting of the newly-elected council will be held, with both parties vying for the vital role of having a member chosen as the meeting’s chairman.

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