Following on from an earlier post the Lib Dems in Southend have issued the following Press Release which I have re-posted ad verbatim. Make of it what you wish:
Lib Dems tell Southend Tories to clean up their own mess
Southend Liberal Democrats Council Group told the Tories today that they must take responsibility for clearing up their own mess and refused to join what would be an unstable bid to seize control of Southend Council.
Cllr. Graham Longley, leader of the LibDem group said that the Tories had not been beaten out of sight in the local elections but had been sent a warning by Southend’s electorate that they needed to pull their socks up and improve the way they were running the town or they would suffer the full consequences in the elections in two years time.
The LibDem group had decided that the best course of action for the Town was to abstain from the election for leader today which was effectively being turned into a personality contest between the Conservative and Independent leaders but made it clear that their members were free to act independently if they wished to. This was not the time for gesture politics by the Independents or others he said.
Abstaining did not mean that the Lib Dems did not want to see change but the numbers making up the groups (Tory 25, LibDem 10, Independent 10, Labour 6) which would need the three opposition groups to join together for a majority of 1 (one) which would leave the council in an unstable situation which would be bad for our town. A Tory lead minority administration where decisions could be challenged and the Tories held to account would be better for the Town and allow all other parties to have a say. The Tories had to accept that they would need to involve people of all parties in running our Town and not cling to a tight grip on the towns development themselves.
Cllr Longley went on to say that leaving the Tories in control would be a disappointment to some but the low turnout (30%) in the local elections were inconclusive and although the Lib Dems and other parties had done well the number of changes were not high enough to allow significant changes to the way the council was administered. Lib Dems will be keeping a close watch on the Tory’s and looking for major concessions on the way the town is run.
This is a realistic approach to achieve stable local government for the town at the same time as forcing the Tories to clear up their own mess and involve others in our town.
I must say that the moment Dr. Vel abstained it put the Lib Dems in a tricky situation as even had they voted en masse for Ron Woodley the casting vote would have still gone the other way. Also the Tories running the show but not being able to push through everything and listening to the other members in the chamber is probably in reality a more realistic probably than the Labour, Lib Dem and Independent groups all working cohesively together.
However as I said earlier. Perception and reality are two very different things…
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