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