This week our Labour minority administration faced its biggest test in the last four years.
Having lost one councillor to the Tory Party and having seen two others go independent, we were put in the unenviable position of a challenge from the Tory group who are now marginally bigger than our group in terms of councillors.
They wished to take over the running of the council for the eight weeks or so until the full city council elections on the May 2.
The Conservative group argued that, where no single group holds the majority of council seats (no party has been in this position for the past 16 years in the city), the convention is that the largest group should attempt to form the administration. However, they had one very clear obstacle to achieving their intention: confidence.
They, as it turns out, were not able to achieve support from either of the other political groups for their proposal. In fact both the Green Group and Independent Group voted in favour of Labour’s proposal to see the Labour administration continue for this short period of time until a new mandate is delivered on May 2. As a result the Conservative group could not take control.
As was pointed out clearly, in recent city-wide elections the Conservative vote has been weakening across the city. The number of Tory councillors does not reflect the will of the people, and certainly cannot be taken in isolation to suggest that the city would welcome such a drastic change of direction so close to a city council election.
I’m delighted that our ongoing delivery of priority services, our investment plans for the future and our inclusive dialogue with all partners will be protected by the result this week. I believe our administration has a proud track record which we will put in front of the electorate in just over eight weeks’ time, alongside our promises for the next four years, and we will listen to the will of the people at that point over who runs the city.
But in the interim that’s my priority… building a city where we can all be proud to live, work and grow.