New Liberal Democrat Mayor and Council Leader for Brentwood

cllr-barry-aspinell-4Brentwood Council has a new Liberal Democrat leader and Mayor after all the opposition parties formed an accord to remove the Tories from power. From the Brentwood Gazette:

Barry Aspinell and William Lloyd became leader and deputy leader of Brentwood Borough Council tonight at a packed council meeting, signalling the start of a four-party accord.

The annual council meeting saw the 19 of the 37 councillors present vote for the pair, who are members of the Liberal Democrats and Brentwood First respectively.

They form one half of the parties in “Brentwood Accord”, also formed of independent Roger Keeble and Labour under the guiding hand of Mike Le-Surf.

Conservative councillor Paul Faragher accused the group of wanting to ‘power grab’.

The former Tory administration had gone to great pains to remove highly effective Liberal Democrat Councillor Karen Chilvers from her Scrutiny Panel position last year, changing the constitution to do so after she allowed a vote of no confidence to be taken. The Council had failed more than half of its key performance indicators at the time.

New Council leader Barry Aspinell promised openness and transparency:

If someone had told me I would have been here like this, it would have been a dream and I would have woken up somewhere.

I love Brentwood. We will get on with the business of running this council properly. The bedrock of that is general transparency.

There will be no need I hope and pray for FoIs to challenge this council on how we come to decisions, what did and what we did not do because it will all be done here.

We will then invite our local council watchdogs and our various independent watchdogs to come into this council and look at what has gone on in the past.

I think it is going to be an exciting and problematic from time to time and all of us here will have to compromise.

Good luck to the new administration.

 

 

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11 Comments

  • Congratulations and good luck to the new administration.

    However it means we can no longer moan about Labour / Con / UKIP doing the same to us in Portsmouth, ganging up on the largest group to deny them control. Live by the sword, die by the sword!

  • Charles Rothwell 12th Jun '14 - 12:12pm

    Congratulations and Good Luck!

  • Agree tpfkar. The largest party has the mandate to govern, and grand coalitions to remove the largest party should only occur in exceptional circumstances. Are there any exceptional circumstances here?

  • Having read the press report given above, I’m not convinced that the removal of a critical chair of scrutiny is sufficiently exceptional to bring down a minority council. A more appropriate response to that would be to punish the minority administration by using the voting majority to install opposition chairs to all the committees.

  • Brentwood is completely different to Portsmouth. For one, we ran on an explicit anti-administration ticket with Labour and Brentwood First. In Portsmouth, however, both UKIP and Labour are insistent that the administration there is a minority Tory one, and are insistent that none of the parties had made deals with each other – despite all three being required for budget votes.

    Secondly, we haven’t been running for the past four years about our opposition “selling their principles for a shot of power”, especially if doing so means deals with UKIP.

  • ‘The largest party has the mandate to govern’? I’ve seen plenty of councils where one party has lost overall control and others have grouped together to remove them from power – it’s how we came to power in Colchester in 2008. The key facts here are that Brentwood’s Tories had been in overall control for a good few years, and once they lost their majority, they couldn’t really claim a mandate, and that the opposition are united and working together. It’s a joint administration of all the previously opposition parties – the difference in Portsmouth is that Labour and UKIP aren’t part of the administration, and after all their sanctimony about us working with the Tories in Government, Labour were happy to make a cynical agreement with UKIP to put the Tories into power there.

  • Peter Chegwyn 13th Jun '14 - 12:43am

    Not sure it is so different to Portsmouth where opposition groups also joined forces to remove the Lib. Dems. from power. They may not be in a formal coalition in Portsmouth but the effect of them voting together is the same.

    Anyway, good luck to the Lib. Dems. in Brentwood. Along with my own Council Group in Gosport, Brentwood was one of a tiny handful of places to make a net gain of seats last month.

    If 11 Lib. Dems. in Brentwood are seeking to run the Council with the support of 3 Labour, 4 Brentwood First and 1 Independent against 18 Conservatives, I wish them well for I guess it won’t be easy.

  • The largest party does NOT have a mandate to govern if it is not the majority party. That is basic and simple arithmetic MBoy.

  • Where there is no majority party, it is perfectly fair for two or more other parties to put together a coalition. And I bet the Tories didn’t get more than 50.0% of the votes anyway.

  • SIMON BANKS 15th Jun '14 - 9:18am

    I find MBoy’s argument strange, to say the least. How many Liberal Democrats, having argued for ages that it’s unfair a party can win an absolute majority on 40% of the vote, believe that whatever party gets the largest vote or number of representatives, however far short of 50%, has a mandate to govern? If no party has a majority, no-one has a mandate alone; so it’s down to seeing what party combination can deliver a coherent programme – which may well enjoy the support of the representatives of a majority of the voters, unlike a party which wins 51% of the seats on 39% of the vote.

    There have been any number of occasions when we’ve joined in combinations against the party with the largest number of councillors. In Waltham Forest in 1982, Labour lost control after 13 years and we held the balance between 26 Labour councillors and 25 Conservative. I suspect the Tories had the largest number of votes. Under MBoy’s argument, Labour had a mandate to govern. We explored the views of both other parties and ended giving broad support (but no commitment to vote for particular measures) to a minority Conservative administration.

    This points to a major factor in such decisions. When a party has been ruling alone and takes a beating, losing a number of seats and losing votes, the case for it continuing in power is weakened. That applies whichever party has lost control. It should have applied in St Albans years ago when the Tories lost control and we were the second party, but Labour kept the Tories in. In Brentwood the situation is very much arrogant Tories versus the rest. The largest party, finding itself in opposition, can of course exploit divisions between the new ruling parties and inconsistencies in their programme. No doubt we’ll do that in Portsmouth and the Tories will try the same in Brentwood.

    Even Nick Clegg has not said that if the Tories come out of next year’s general election short of a majority but with the largest number of seats (and inevitably well under half the votes) they should automatically lead the administration, in or out of coalition. In such circumstances the clear responsibility of the smaller parties is to assess what solution will deliver most of what their voters voted for, and, from their political standpoint because they can start from no other, what seems to be best for the country/area.

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