Monday, 10 May 2010

Lib Dem left as party 'ineffective'

A LIBERAL Democrat councillor this afternoon said he had left the council party because it was ‘ineffective’ in opposition – but would back it if it now took power from the Conservatives.

The Silhillian reported this morning that Cllr Howard Allen, right, had left the Lib Dems on Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to sit as an ‘independent Liberal Democrat’.

This means the party is technically one short of an overall majority of 26 if it formed a coalition with Labour – yet Cllr Allen said they could count on his support.

Click the headline or link below to read the rest of this story.

The move makes a Lib-Lab pact more of a possibility if party leaders agree.

The Conservative Party lost its majority of 26 after losing two seats at a council election last Thursday.

It was a double blow for the Tories after the party failed to re-take Solihull in the General Election from the Lib Dems.

Cllr Allen said in a statement to the media: “The recent history of ineffectiveness displayed by the Liberal Democrat Group in opposition on Solihull Council has been a considerable concern for me”.

He told The Silhillian: “I do believe the main duty of a political party in opposition is to oppose – and I don’t think we do enough of that.”

Yet the Shirley West member said he expected to support a Lib-Lab coalition if one was formed.

The move means there are now 23 Conservatives, 18 Lib Dems, seven Labour, one Green and two independent on the council.

He said: “I am a member of the Liberal Democrat party and strongly believe in the values of the party.”

And he said rumours that he left over concerns about a Lib-Lab pact were not true.

“Quite the contrary, I feel the Liberal Democrats should have been talking to Labour long ago with a view to getting rid of an arrogant Tory minority administration which fails to take account of residents views and has been so unpopular and damaging for Solihull.”

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Ian Hedley was not available for comment.

Conservative and cabinet member Ken Hawkins lost to Lib Dem Martin Hewings in Elmdon and Rob Hall lost to Labour’s David Jamieson in Kinghurst and Fordbridge at the May 6 vote.

And the British National Party has lost its only seat on the council, in Chelmsley Wood, to Labour’s Nick Stephens.

The council has been run with no overall control for most of the 1990s and again in 2007 after being in Tory hands since the 1970s.

Click here for the full results.