Paul Ray
Cllr Paul Ray

Labour’s decision to allow the Conservatives to continue to run Lichfield District Council is a missed opportunity, the leader of the Liberal Democrats group has said.

The local authority saw no party gain overall control at the elections earlier this month.

With the Conservatives having 23 councillors, Labour securing 17 seats and the Lib Dems taking seven, there had been speculation that the two minority parties could reach an agreement to work together to create a majority which would oust the Tories from power.

But Labour has ruled out such a link-up – a move Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Paul Ray said was not what voters wanted.

“We see this as a huge missed opportunity considering the major point that came up time and time again on the doorstep was that it was time for change.

“People voted for change, but this is not change.

“The Lib Dem councillors elected to Lichfield District Council were prepared to work with Labour, but Labour have taken the decision to allow the Conservatives to continue to run the council. That is so disappointing.

“For 24 years Labour has wanted an end to Conservative control of Lichfield District Council, but now that that opportunity has arisen Labour seems content to stay on the side lines. That is a wasted opportunity and not what voters wanted.

“I appreciate that an arrangement between the Lib Dems and Labour would have had challenges as that would have meant that there was just a one councillor majority. However, we were prepared to try and make that work so that our community could have had a council with a fresh approach.”

Cllr Paul Ray, Lichfield District Council

“We will be a vocal opposition”

Despite his disappointment at Labour’s stance, Cllr Ray said the Lib Dems were committed to working with the other parties in order to ensure key projects go ahead.

“Going forwards we will continue to look to work collaboratively for the best of our community – but we will be a vocal opposition. 

“We must see the key projects – the cinema, Friarsgate and the leisure centre – progress and quickly.

“And we need to see change with the priorities that we campaigned and were elected on such as improved infrastructure, more affordable housing, better leisure facilities for all, more employment in Lichfield and Burntwood and specific policies to deal with the climate change emergency.”

Cllr Paul Ray, Lichfield District Council

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

36 Comments
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Annoyed local
1 year ago

Three things:

1) Push to fix the roads.

2) Sort out friarsgate.

3) Push back against greedy developers.

Anything else is trivial at local level in my opinion.

Andy
1 year ago

Beggers believe, what’s the point of voting if Labour just allow Conservatives to carry on as usual making bad decisions!

Tina
1 year ago

Just goes to show what a bunch of wussies Labour councillors can be. Plain daft – idiocy. Surely the whole point of NOC is for there to be collaboration between the opposition parties. Tories have ruined the UK and now we can expect more of the same from the members of the party that supports a corrupt government. The Conservative party colour is now brown – not blue. The sewage party. Do the Labour councillor leaders lack the courage of their convictions? Don’t want the responsibility? Looks that way.

Dale
1 year ago

Labour and the Lib Dems have been “lent the votes” of a number of local people.

Do something with them and work together for the good of Lichfield and Burntwood. If not what is the point of voting for someone different, if we just get the same?

JoTrainer
1 year ago

Can someone from the Labour group please explain this decision. The majority of residents voted for a change from the Tories so why isn’t Labour taking the opportunity to work with the Lib Dems? We need clarification!

RFW
1 year ago

Any bets on how long and from where the first defector to the Conservatives comes from. You imagine the statement, “the objective of getting elected is to obtain power to change things for the better. Sadly to many in my party prefer to object and protest whilst seeming afraid to grasp the once in a generation opportunity to run LDC. It is for that reason I have decided to join the Conservatives or sit as an independent supporting the Conservatives. We were elected on mandate for change but clearly some in my former party do not wish to have the burden of power and the responsibility that goes with it”.

WhittingtonMom
1 year ago

So angry at Labour councillors right now! Why did they stand for election if they don’t want change, sort it out!

John Robinson
1 year ago

What is the point in standing for election if you don’t want to exercise power and influence? The people spoke last week. The people said they didn’t want Tory rule in Lichfield any more. The 17 Labour councillors could have worked with the 7 Lib Dem councillors to allow the people’s wish. It would mean some compromise but the Lib Dems aren’t your actual bigoted, looney zealots bent on anarchic revolution. I’m not a member of any party, in my 82 years I have voted in every election I have been entitled to, always voted Labour but, sadly for me, only ever for 3 successful candidates! These 17 cowardly Labour councillors, running away from their responsibilities, should hang their heads in shame for betraying their electorate. Better still, if they had any honour, they would resign en masse, so that we could elect candidates with some guts. The Labour Party nationally should disown and expel them. We’re now stuck with Fabbo and an incompetent Tory council for ever. Shame on the 17!!

Russ Bragger
1 year ago

Labour will not let the Tories carry on as usual. Every decision will be scrutinised as usual but now anything that is not in the interests of the people of Lichfield can be voted down. The Tories will have to change what they do or face defeat.

Jimmy
1 year ago

The local Labour party need to apologise to voters. We voted for Labour but turns out they’d rather have the Tories in power. Absolute cowards. Frankly, I think they should consider calling by-elections since they don’t want to do what they were voted in for

Simon
1 year ago

The people made the Conservatives the largest party, therefore they have the democratic right to take the lead, but clearly collaboration with others is required. Collaborate, not exclude. Some people on here are pathetic.

Ben
1 year ago

Wow, what a spineless stance to witness the end of Tory absolute majority and to be presented with a first route to change in a long time, only then to say you prefer just being a critic of others and someone else can lead.

You’re killing your first impressions here Labour 17, the electorate won’t forgive you if a vote for Labour gives the Tories, and likewise for the Lib Dems if the opposite was to materialise.

Collaboration is still key between all parties, but an absolute majority pact is an instrument that builds on a place of common ground when the time comes to make the decisions. Any Labour 17 members who are happy with the status quo should honestly step down and let us have a proper informed choice between the status quo or something definitevely different.

craig
1 year ago

useless
we voted for change and labour cowards want to stay as opposition to moan instead
time for independent lichfield

GKB
1 year ago

Total waste of time – Lichfield Labour have bottled it.
Their candidates did not even bother to campaign in some seats – no effort whatsoever. Their contempt for the electorate is clear.
They are clearly not up to the job and not to be trusted in future.
Vote Labour, get Tory – so why bother?

Gareth
1 year ago

Sadly this means in future no one will vote Labour again. Labour should be doing a deal with the Lib Dems to take control of the council. The fact that Labour has taken an easy route to sit back and play tactical voting at every meeting means that voter will never give Labour the trust again. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference and to have a totally fresh leadership.

Cllr Paul Taylor
1 year ago

“Taking control with a Lab/Lib pact” wouldn’t be as easy as it sounds or produce the results that commenters seem to think.
– The 17 Labour seats and 7 LibDem seats would only produce a majority of 1
– Governing with a majority of just one is hard enough when all votes come from the same party—trying to do so when 7 of those votes come from a party with different values (even if they overlap) and drivers would be incredibly hard.
– Taking control that way would set the Tories as “opposition”, guaranteed to vote against all but the most controversial motions.
– Unlike Parliament, Councillors are not paid a salary to avoid holidays or other work commitments for council or committee meetings. Cllrs being on holiday would have a huge impact on outcomes.
It would almost certainly result in paralysis and poor outcome for anyone.
Control by one would not be control in anything but name.
Cooperation will produce better results.

Hannah
1 year ago

There seems to be a mild anger towards the Lib dems from labour which may come apart from the fact that their candidates standing in both Burntwood seats in the county elections seemed to aid the Conservatives. It is good that this did not happen this time and I would hope that together they can work to stop the worst parts of the Conservative Party.

RFW
1 year ago

@ Cllr Paul Taylor. Utter nonsense, councillors at other authorities on knife edges have to turn up for council meetings to maintain power. Why are you special? To say you won’t take power because your councillors can’t have holidays when it suits them and their plans clash with the council meeting is a joke and shows your commitment. Don’t stand if you don’t want the risk of this imposition. How many main council meetings a year 6, blank out the diary. Labour don’t want to turn up because it might be inconvenient. Mind you with this political skill and acumen don’t give up the day job.

Coalition is about making it work. How about a coalition agreement? You are fools no one will vote Labour or LD again if this is your position. Enjoy another 25 years out of power starting in 4 years.

Stephen
1 year ago

The idiotic labour party will not get my vote again, for the first time, god know how long the labour party has a opportunity to run the council with the lib dems, and the idiots are not using the opportunity, we might as well not sodding vote at all, who to the labour councillors think we should vote for in the general election ? It’s hard to believe they are so pathetic, absolutely disgusting

Denise
1 year ago

I feel Ms Woodward needs to improve her communication skills and very quickly.
She needs to have explained to her voters what her reasoning is when making decisions.
Very clumsy handling of this situation.

Linda Dickins
1 year ago

A crazy decision by Labour. WHY?

Furious
1 year ago

There now seems little point in voting at all… what a waste of everyone’s time.

There is no majority, that’s what the people voted, the councillors should behave like adults and work together.
What chance of Labour got of winning Lichfield in the future if all they’re going to do is give it away.

And as for “Cllr Paul Taylor’s” comments… well. Sometimes you have to put your work first, and if that means not taking a holiday when you want to, that’s just too bad. The Councillors stood for election, if they didn’t want to commit they shouldn’t had put themselves forward.

Pathetic.

Clare Charles
1 year ago

Going by what is being posted on SM by members of both Labour and the Lib Dems and the comments in LL stories so far, I’m not sure what Cllr Woodward originally said it looking likely at the moment. What is really noticeable is how quiet Cllr Pullen continues to be apart from the general comments about looking forward.

“Having been elected as my group’s leader on Saturday, I made it clear to my colleagues that I want us all to focus on getting the best outcomes for our residents and not political stitch-ups behind closed doors.

“People have had enough of ding-dong politics and I want to cooperate with the majority group at the council as far as possible, as well as the Lib Dems, in focusing all our efforts on making the best possible decisions on behalf of our communities.

“It’s time for grown-up politics now.”

Cllr Sue Woodward, Lichfield District Council

We haven’t seen much evidence of this publicly yet. I’m sure the Conservatives are enjoying the show so far.

Chris McGranaghan
1 year ago

I don’t remember a Lab/Lib option on the ballot paper. I voted for the Labour party and we won 17 seats., an increase of 7. The Lib Dems won 7 seats, an increase of 6. The Tories won 23 seats losing 11 in the process. I didn’t vote for a pact or a long term deal with the Lib Dems. Maybe I’ve missed the point here but politics isn’t a pick n mix section in Woolies.

Toby
1 year ago

Big mistake Labour Why not at least try to work with Lib Dems?

Sahure
1 year ago

@Chris McGranaghan, of course you voted for the Labour Party, and not for a coalition. However, while the Tories clearly lost the election, the fact remains that the opposition parties didn’t clearly win. Labour finished second in total seats, and neither Labour nor the LibDems won enough seats to take control of the district council without working with another party. If you, as a Labour supporter, think your party is better-placed than the Tories to govern Lichfield, and if you therefore want your party to take the lead role in governing the district council, then this requires Labour to work with another party; and the only option available for a local governing coalition with Labour as the largest party is a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The other options are either a Con minority government or a Con-LibDem coalition; both leave Labour out of power.

If you value ideological purity over power, then fine; some of us hope to see a bit more pragmatism.

Lich Blues
1 year ago

I made the point some time ago on Lichfield Live that Labour and Lib Dems should stand down in seats at the General election to ensure the party with best chance of defeating the sitting Tory MP is in pole position to win a seat at Westminster. This is particularly relevant to unseating Mr Fabricant.

I doubt this shall happen sadly which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

As for Labour not joining forces with the Lib Dems to run the council – utterly bonkers.

Dale
1 year ago

@Cllr Paul Taylor. We do not expect the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems to have all of the answers. We want discussion and then you to all agree the best approach.

In under a week, I feel I have wasted my vote.

Cllr Paul Taylor
1 year ago

@Dale – That’s exactly what is currently happening. We’re less than a week out from the election results so things are still settling.

Asellus aquaticus
1 year ago

I’m trying to understand why everyone is so desperate for a coalition.

Last time we had a (national) coalition, how did that work out overall?

Cllr Paul Taylor
1 year ago

@RFW You picked one element of my explanation, and the minor one at that, and made your response all about that. Even if all of our councillors were to give up holidays that might clash with council meetings (including committee meetings, cabinet meetings, group meetings, etc – for those at the sharp end they can run for several each week), there is still the more significant issue of try to get 2 differing political groups to agree to vote the same way at every meeting. If you’ve followed the issues the Tories have had over the last year, it can be hard enough even when you’re all in one party.

Rob
1 year ago

I’d love to think that this is actually a savvy political move – General election coming in 2024, and the Conservatives in Lichfield have no chance of making any real progress on many of these issues before then. Twinned with increasing bewilderment at Fabricant, maybe Labour are eyeing up a challenge in Lichfield? Leading a coalition without a real majority and trying to clean up the tory mess for 4 years would more likely see the council turn back in 2027.

Sahure
1 year ago

@Asellus: I’m entirely comfortable arguing that the country was manifestly better-governed from 2010-15 than it has been since; that doesn’t mean I think that the Con-LibDem coalition was perfect, only that it was patently better than the car crash single-party Conservative government we’ve had since 2015. On that basis, I see no particular issue with arguing for a local Lab-LibDem coalition now, especially if it’s the only viable mechanism to keep the Tories out of power in Lichfield.

RFW
1 year ago

@Cllr Paul Taylor. Nonsense, the Local Government Act 2000 was drafted to vest decision power to two areas Cabinet and Main Council. Cabinet requires a majority and adequate attendance. The only other two meeting that really matter are Annual Council and budget council unless some large expenditure comes up, smart ones get it all through in one go. The other meetings are talking shops and a few minor decision making areas like licensing and planning mostly to keep the back bench occupied and share allowances. I think Labour is stuck in 1999 with committee making decisions. Ah ha perhaps that was the plan to do away with Cabinet system and go back to the committee model only find not enough councillors could get to meetings for this structure to work. It is a total disgrace you don’t want to make it work when other councils up and down the country can and do. You signed up for this and then complain that you have to go to a couple meetings a week. Did Labour not expect power?

Asellus aquaticus
1 year ago

I’m finding it really sad to see how we are becoming increasingly desperately tribal in our society at the expense of pragmatism. It’s broken the USA and it’s happening more and more here all the time.

There is a huge difference between national and local government. I’ve worked in local government and have known councillors in each party. Some are there for the right reasons, some not, there isn’t a monopoly of good councillors. Many of the projects that people are so annoyed about on here are nothing to do with actual political philosophy (potholes, planning decisions, cinemas, leisure centres etc), they’re just associated with the party in control.

I can see that I’m very much in the minority on here, but I applaud any of those in any of the three parties who are more interested in working collaboratively for the good of local people, rather than the inevitably stalemates from taking entrenched positions based solely on party affiliation.

Simon
1 year ago

Asellus aquaticus – I completely agree. Indeed, I posted something similar a few days ago but for some reason by post wasn’t uploaded to the comments section. Party politics is far less important at local level. As far as I can tell, Labour and the Lib Dems pretty much agree with most Conservative projects at a local level anyway, i.e. more housing, leisure centre built on a park, cinema, pedestrianisation (in principle) etc etc, so I’m not really sure what big change people were expecting.