The Labour Party and Liberal Democrats in Milton Keynes have agreed an 'enhanced partnership' to run Milton Keynes Council, following the local elections last week when the Conservatives became the largest party.
Milton Keynes Council currently has 24 Conservative, 21 Labour and 12 Liberal Democrat councillors and so no party has an overall majority.
Both Labour and the Conservatives have been in talks with the Liberal Democrats this week to try and form an administration.
Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Douglas McCall, told MKFM: “We carefully considered the responses from both parties. Labour offered us a coalition, but seats round the Cabinet table is not what is important to us. What is important is the delivery of policy, and in the end that was the main deciding factor."
"We have had a successful partnership with Labour over the last two years, and have agreed to enter into an enhanced partnership, which allows the Lib Dems to have a major influence on Council policy, and in which the whole of the Liberal Democrat and Labour manifestos will form the Council Plan."
The deal means that Peter Marland will remain leader of Milton Keynes Council, with the Conservatives remaining in opposition despite having the largest number of seats.
But the plans have been condemned by the Conservative group who have accused Labour of 'clinging on to power by their fingernails'.
Responding to the news, Leader of the Milton Keynes Conservatives Cllr Alex Walker said: "I'm extremely disappointed the two smallest parties have blocked our mandate of change that voters demanded on 3 May. We respect we are in a no overall control council but this is not a suitable way to continue a failing administration. It is a cop out and we stand by if they want to block us from power they must enter a formal coalition."
"We did all we can to work with the Lib Dems, we negotiated on a number of issues and thought a clear way forward in the interests of residents was there to be agreed. Sadly, it seems a back room stitch up by the Labour Party - who have failed MK for four years and lost three elections in a row - put forward a desperate proposal to the Lib Dems."
"This will only strengthen the desire for change in Milton Keynes and we will continue to call out the failings at the Council such as on the state of the roads and the levels of homelessness."
The outline of the new Labour and Liberal Democrat partnership includes:
- A refreshed Medium Term Financial Strategy that does not deny the impact of austerity or place the financial viability of MK Council in jeopardy;
- Delivering a long-term vision for Milton Keynes and passing Plan:MK;
- Responding to the National Infrastructure Committee Report on the East-West Corridor;
- Tackling homelessness;
- Increasing truly affordable housing;
- Improving highway repairs and maintenance;
- Reducing litter and improving landscaping;
- Increasing sustainability;
- More investment in children’s and adult social care
- Devolution and sustainable funding for Town and Parish Councils.
Commenting on the rejected offer of a deal from the Conservatives, Cllr Douglas McCall of the Lib Dems said: “We rejected the offer from the Conservatives as they wanted to run a minority Administration on their own, with little if any say for the Lib Dems. We are also very concerned at their proposals to raid the Council’s reserves. In these times of austerity financial prudence is key, and we don’t want to follow the lead of neighbouring Conservative run Northamptonshire County Council, which only leads to bankruptcy."
“We look forward to continuing to work positively with Labour for the benefit of MK residents and to bringing stability to the no overall control council”.
Deputy Leader of the Conservatives, Cllr Catriona Morris, said: "I cannot see how this will provide the city the strong leadership it needs. No details have been provided of what an 'enhanced partnership' will mean, not only will this deal block our mandate, it seems to me, this is just same old same old, which must be bad news for the Council and MK."
The Labour Council Leader Peter Marland said: “After the elections MK Council remained in No Overall Control. No single party has a majority to form the administration without the support of another.”
“After discussions between all parties, the Labour Group and the Liberal Democrats have reached a decision in principle on the future leadership of MK Council.”
“I will be making further comment on Monday regarding the arrangements.”