At July’s meeting of the Full Council, Stockport Liberal Democrats presented a motion calling for a comprehensive review of the council’s preparedness for Brexit, highlighting the particular risks of a “no-deal” Brexit. This received unanimous support across all parties.
Speaking after the debate, Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Mark Hunter said: “With the Tory leadership contenders both tying themselves to renegotiating the Brexit deal in the face of our European partners being very clear that no further negotiations are possible, the spectre of a no-deal Brexit looms ever larger. And our supposed ally across the sea in America has only this week launched further attacks on our government.
“We do not and cannot know the full impact of this reckless folly until it is too late and, because of this, we cannot know whether the council is properly prepared to support our residents and local businesses through what will certainly be challenging times. We need to be diligent in our preparations and be seen to be doing everything we can to mitigate a no-deal Brexit.”
Lib Dem Deputy Leader Cllr Lisa Smart added: “Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to stop Brexit as there is no deal with the European Union better than the one we already have. In the event that Brexit cannot be stopped, we need to make sure that the council is fully prepared for the uncertainty that will inevitably follow.
“From managing food and drug supplies to ensuring there are carers available for our most vulnerable residents, no part of the borough will be immune from the damage of a no-deal Brexit.”
The text of the motion can be read at the link below:
01 Brexit preparedness
At Stockport Council’s Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday evening, and in response to a public question, the Labour cabinet member with responsibility for Climate Change and the Green Agenda admitted that, despite the Council Meeting on 28th March passing a resolution declaring a Climate Emergency and calling for a letter to be sent from the Council Leader to the Prime Minister, no such letter has yet been sent.
The excuses given included the local elections in May, the consequent change in who leads the Labour Group and the future change of Prime Minister.
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Stockport Council, said “I am astounded that, despite a motion being passed with all-party support, the Labour administration have not seen fit to write to the Prime Minister in a timely fashion. An emergency was declared almost 12 weeks ago, the outgoing Council Leader had almost two more months in office after the motion was passed before he was replaced and the new Leader has officially been in post for almost a month.
“If Labour really were treating this as a Climate Emergency, rather than just paying lip service to it in reaction to public pressure, they would have sent the letter immediately after the Council Meeting in March. This is simply not good enough and a sign that you cannot trust Labour with the environment.”
Following the local elections earlier this month, Labour and the Liberal Democrats ended up in a dead heat, each having 26 of the 63 seats on the council, with a small number of Conservative and Independent Ratepayer councillors holding the balance of power.
During the past week there have been intensive negotiations between the Groups which have ended up with agreement that Labour will continue as a minority administration, with no formal support from any other Group, and the Liberal Democrats will remain the main opposition and Chair all five of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees to hold Labour to account.
Speaking after the negotiations had completed, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council, said: “We were delighted to make such great progress at the local elections. We conceded that Labour could form the administration for a further year but the Group Leaders had to acknowledge that a dead heat between the main Groups plus a shrinking Conservative Group meant the Lib Dems should control Scrutiny. We will continue to work constructively at the town hall but we will be holding the minority Labour administration to account.”
Deputy Leader, Cllr Lisa Smart, added: “The outcome reflects the political reality of the number of councillors each Group has plus Labour having the mayor’s casting vote for the year ahead. We are looking forward to a very interesting year ahead.”
“As the Leaders of the four groups on Stockport Council we were disappointed to hear that a former member of the BNP and former leader of the EDL plans to campaign in Stockport today. We believe there should be no place in our world for the politics of hatred and division that these people represent. They seek to pit person against person on the basis of race, ethnicity or beliefs and to undermine community cohesion. We are confident residents will continue to support the inclusive approach which all political groups on Stockport Council have repeatedly endorsed.
Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of the Labour Group
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group
Cllr Mike Hurleston, Leader of the Conservative Group
Cllr Adrian Nottingham, Leader of the Independent Ratepayers Group”
Following outstanding electoral success last Thursday evening, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, said:
“What a terrific night Liberal Democrats, across the country but particularly in Stockport. We won ten of the twenty one seats up for election, the largest of any single party and, in the process, took back every seat the Tories took from us in 2015. We are now level on seats with Labour and have more seats to gain next year. I’d like to pay tribute to all of my colleagues for their efforts across the borough and I hope they share my pleasure that we have been so well rewarded at the ballot box.
“Our thoughts now turn to who runs the council as we are now on level pegging with Labour and gained by far the largest share of the vote across Stockport as a whole. As reported in the local press, negotiations have started and will need to be complete in time for the Annual Council Meeting on 21st May. The real work in making Stockport a better place to live and work continues.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, added: “These elections have been a huge blow for the Tories and they look set to experience a further rejection by voters in the forthcoming European Elections. I hope local voters who supported the Liberal Democrats on Thursday and who, like us, want to stop Brexit will vote for us again on 23rd May.”
Stockport’s Liberal Democrats have congratulated Stockport County FC on winning promotion to the National League. County were crowned champions of the National League North following their 3-0 away win at Nuneaton on Saturday.
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Stockport Town Hall said “I join all County fans in saluting the achievements of Jim Gannon and his team in securing the title after a long, hard season. County have battled back from adversity many times over the years and deserve their success. I hope we see the team back in their rightful place – in the Football League – before too long.”
The Liberal Democrats have called on Stockport Council to host a civic reception for the club to celebrate their success.