Lib Dems and Conservatives enter joint administration in Oldham

It seems coalitions are in the air.  The Lib Dem and Conservative groups on Oldham Council in Greater Manchester yesterday announced a framework agreement which will see current Lib Dem Council leader Howard Sykes retain the top job, the Conservatives support the Lib Dem budget for this coming year and a Conservative councillor coming onto the executive.

The local elections saw the Lib Dems lose overall control in Oldham, with the new numbers being  Labour 27, Liberal Democrat 27, Conservatives 5, Independent 1.

The Oldham Council press release reads:

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups on Oldham Council are pleased to announce they have reached an agreement to jointly form an Administration. Following lengthy negotiations, the decision to work together was endorsed unanimously by both political groups on Monday evening.

The local election of 5th May resulted in no party having an overall majority on the Council.

Reflecting on the outcome, Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Sykes commented:  “The electorate have been clear in Oldham, as at national level, that they want politicians to put aside party differences and work together for the benefit of our Borough and its citizens”

He added: “A number of productive meetings have been held over the last week with Councillor Jack Hulme, Leader of the Conservatives, on the possibility of a setting up a Cabinet of all Talents; I have to say also that it is regrettable that the Labour Leader declined the invitation to participate.”

The agreement means that, for the first time since Oldham Council was established, the parties forming the Administration contain elected representatives from every district of Oldham, allowing it to fully represent the views of people across the entire Borough. Nearly 60% of all votes cast at the election were for Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates, giving the joint administration real democratic legitimacy.

Cllr Jack Hulme, Conservative group Leader, commented: “As councillors, we have a responsibility to ensure the Council has strong, stable and effective leadership. My group and I believe the best way we can serve the people of Oldham is work with colleagues from the Liberal Democrats to ensure that the Council can deliver real benefits to local people.”

He added: “We all recognise that in any partnership there will not be agreement on every issue. However, the productive discussions between our parties show that we all have the best interests of the Borough at heart, and I’m confident we will be able to put together a strong programme that deliver results”.

Under the terms of the agreement, Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Howard Sykes will remain Leader of the Council, and Cllr Jackie Stanton Deputy Leader.

Cllr Jack Hulme will take executive responsibility for a specific portfolio.

Councillor Sykes concluded by saying: “Whilst this agreement is unique in the history of Oldham Council, I am reluctant to call it ground breaking or historic, I prefer to see it as a mature and practical response to the testing times in which we find ourselves. Clearly some of the finer detail has yet to be finalised but that will be the subject of further discussion before Annual Council on 26th May 2010”

He added: “Jack and I have worked hard, focussing heavily on how we can share the talents of our Groups for the mutual benefit of the Borough, and to assign party politics to the back burner.  I am confident that we have achieved that aim.”

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13 Comments

  • Just merge with the Tories and be done with it .

  • Did anyone interview the voters to find out whether by the LibDems forming this joint council administration they had ‘betrayed’ those who were voting for No Overall Control?

    @AJ – What about the Lab-Con coalition in Derby, eh? What do you make of that?

  • I think it was either Bolton or Huddersfield (possibly both)

  • There was a Lab-Con alliance to keep out largest party the Lib Dems in Bristol 2007-2008. It only broke down because there was an instruction from Conservative HQ, as it was harming Tory prospects in the marginal seats around Bristol.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 18th May '10 - 10:46pm

    Strange how you forget that you fail to mention that the Tories lost the only seat they were defending on Oldham Council or that Oldham decided to only elect Labour MPs. It would appear to me that the clear will of the electorate in Oldham was not to let Tories into power, and this is another demonstration that the pursuit of power is the overriding principle driving most LibDems.

    It would appear that Silver and Bronze can make Gold in Oldham, all that is needed is to make the best offer to the LibDems

  • Strictly the Lib Dems didn’t lose control – it was previously NOC with 30 LD and 30 others..

  • I don’t see anything particularly problematic about the Oldham joint administration because it is Lib Dem dominated and the Conservative component is small and subordinate. It is not unlike the Southward arrangment, which clearly did no harm to Simon Hughes, whose vote went up on 6th May. I am more concerned about alliances with large Conservative groups, as in Birmingham and Leeds. I was terrified that we would get hammered in Leeds North-West, over an arrangement that has clearly divided the local party and cost us members, but Greg Mulholland’s vote went up and the Labour vote went down. We do need to bear in mind that local government these days is central government led and that political control makes a lot less difference than it did in the days of Derek Hatton and Red Ted Knight. National government is a wholly different beast and we should be wary of comparing the two.

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