ELECTIONS 2011: Labour aim to rule – despite minority

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THE LABOUR Party gained 12 seats across the High Peak in last week’s election, making them the largest party on the borough council.

But, despite having notched up 21 councillors across the borough’s 28 wards, the Labour party still didn’t have enough representatives to take control of the council outright.

Discussions have been ongoing between the parties since the election results were announced on Friday and the Labour party have now expressed their intention to form a minority administration.

Caitlin Bisknell, leader of the Labour group, said: “The leader of the Liberal Democrat group and the Independent group have said they won’t stand in our way in terms of forming a minority administration. I think Tony Ashton, the leader of the Tory group, has accepted that now.

“That means that on Wednesday at Full Council, we’ll be looking to form a minority administration. We’ll be appointing a leader and deputy leader of the Council and members of the Executive who will be Labour members.”

However, Cllr Bisknell said her party were more than willing to work with the other parties in deciding the make-up of the council, and that where councillors from the various parties had certain expertise, they would make sure they were able to put them to good use.

“We are not saying we are going to take all the appointments,” she added.

“We’ve already agreed to support (Conservative councillor) Tony Favell’s nomination as one of two representatives on the Peak Park.

“He looks like he is in line to be the next chair and that is a very important position so we will be supporting that nomination. We will also be looking to reappoint David Mellor (Independent) as chair of the Development Control committee.”

And responding to Friday’s results, which saw significant gains for her party, Cllr Bisknell said: “We’re absolutely delighted.

“It exceeded our realistic expectations because we had certainly hoped to take a number of seats but to actually take 12 means we are very happy. Clearly the voters in High Peak are not very happy with what the Tories and Liberal Democrats are doing in Government at the moment. Things like the VAT increases affect things like food bills – then there’s tuition fees and EMA.

“Quite often local elections get overtaken by national events and national policies but on this occasion these things have hit local people.

“In Buxton, they’re talking about cutting one of the fire engines and losing five retained firefighters so national policies have impacted on local people and the local community.

“Then there’s the debacle of Buxton swimming pool which hopefully may be slowly getting towards a resolution, but there are a lot of issues there that will need to be dealt with even once the pool is open.”

Having won a large number of seats in 2007’s election, the Conservative party had previously had control of High Peak Borough Council with 24 councillors.

But following last week’s election when the Conservatives lost nine seats, they now only have 15 councillors on the authority.

A statement from them said: “High Peak Conservatives were pleased to again poll more votes in the Borough Council elections than any other party but this did not transfer into as many seats as Labour who are now the largest party but do not have overall control.

“We are proud that we delivered on our pledges to the electorate who voted us into office in 2007 by setting the lowest council tax increases in High Peak’s history, freezing car parking charges, more than doubling recycling, refurbishing our leisure centres, bringing Hadfield Hall back into public use, transforming the Pavilion Gardens and much more.

“Our hopes are that the Labour Party does not squander the finances, delivers the refurbishment of Glossop Town Hall, works with the people of Glossop to bring Victoria Hall into public use and completes the negotiations on the Crescent in Buxton.

“We look forward to providing robust and constructive scrutiny and holding the Leader and Executive to account.”

The Liberal Democrats also lost seats in last week’s election and now only have three councillors on the borough council, instead of the six they had in place following the 2007 election.

However, there are still four Independent councillors on the authority, the same number as there were following the last election four years ago.

And as in 2007, the Green Party failed to win any seats.