Lib Dem-Labour pact will run South Gloucestershire Council

The Liberal Democrat and Labour groups have agreed to work in partnership to run South Gloucestershire Council.

Claire Young, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, will become leader of the council, with Labour leader Ian Boulton becoming co-leader of the council, it has been announced this afternoon.

Some aspects of the administration will include:

  A shared focus on the climate emergency and helping residents with the cost of living crisis.

  A review of how the council forms and passes policy, including local area decision-making and greater public involvement.

  Sharing the South Gloucestershire seat at the West of England Combined Authority, working to improve local buses and the travel network.

After signing the written agreement to form an administration, Claire Young said:  “Local people voted for change in May, following eight years of Conservative rule.

Claire Young

“In discussions with the Labour group it was apparent we had many shared goals to improve the lives of local people. We want to take the council in a different direction, working with local people to make South Gloucestershire a better place for everyone.”

Ian Boulton

Ian Boulton added: “This is a brilliant opportunity to put forward a new vision for South Gloucestershire. We’re aware of the budgetary challenges at the moment, with the Conservative Government failing to fund local authorities properly.

“That can change at next year’s General Election.”

After the local elections on 4th May the Lib Dems returned 20 councillors, gaining three, while Labour returned 17, gaining six.

Together, the two groups have 37 of the 61 councillors elected: more than the 31 needed for a majority and much more than the 23-strong Conservative Group.

The Conservatives lost ten councillors on 4th May while an Independent was also elected.

The new full council will be meeting for the first time next Wednesday evening at Kingswood Civic Centre.

Responding tonight, the Conservatives said they feared that the alliance would result in higher costs and worse public services for residents.

They said: “A backroom deal has been struck between Labour and the Lib Dems to run South Gloucestershire Council following May’s local elections. This is despite the South Gloucestershire Conservative group emerging from the elections as the largest party on the council.

“While the results of the elections were announced during the night on Thursday 4th May, it has taken two full weeks for Labour and the Lib Dems to agree to work together, which has further fuelled fears that the coalition administration is set to be a disaster for South Glos.

“And with their failure to commit to managing public finances in a responsible way, the Conservatives fear the Labour-Lib Dem coalition will see residents left with ever-increasing costs while council finances and vital public services will be mismanaged.

Cllr Sam Bromiley, leader of the Conservative group, said they were disappointed that Labour and the Lib Dems had chosen to exclude the largest party from all discussions on how to run the council.

“On several occasions we have offered to meet to discuss how all residents’ views can be reflected in the new council, but each time this was met by silence. This agreement represents the worst of all worlds for South Glos. It is an unstable coalition between two parties neither of which has the best interests of residents in mind and both of which have a track record of poor decision-making.”