As the Liberal Democrats emerged from the local elections on 6th May as the largest single party, we reached out, over the weekend, to all Groups now on the council with a view to forming a minority Lib Dem administration. Given the outcome of the elections, we were optimistic of a consensus around this positive way forward.
What seems to have become clear in the past 24 hours, however, is that some kind of Labour/Conservative agreement has been formulated, the details of which have not been shared with us, and we now await further developments at the informal council meeting on Thursday of next week.
If the council were to remain under a Labour-led administration, this would be the first time Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council was led by anything other than the largest single party since it was formed in 1974. Labour were also the only group to move backwards in terms of number of seats last week.
Following an evening of mixed results with gains and losses for all parties, the Liberal Democrats are now the largest single party on Stockport Council, whilst the council remains in No Overall Control.
Speaking on Sunday, Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “As the largest Group on Stockport Council it is incumbent on us to start the process of trying to form a minority administration. Between us, Lisa Smart, my Deputy Leader, and I have spoken to all four of the other parties now represented on the council.
“The early signs are that there is support for a change of administration, recognising the fact that Labour have fallen back from a dead heat on seats with us and no longer have the casting vote of the Mayor.
“In 2016 Labour asserted the right of the largest Group to form an administration, and we are now using those established principles to do the same. I hope that Labour will recognise this and that there will be an orderly transition to a new open, transparent and accountable Liberal Democrat administration to take Stockport forward.
“There is much to do as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and Stockport now needs a fresh team who are willing to recognise that, as a minority administration, they need to work co-operatively with other Groups, not take decisions behind closed doors as has happened too often in recent months.
“I believe the Lib Dems are that team, and I look forward to the challenge of turning around the recent drift under Labour and to getting Stockport moving forward again, punching its weight as one of the largest local authorities in Greater Manchester”.
Today the Liberal Democrats have launched their Vision for Stockport, a comprehensive action plan to move our community forward as we emerge from the Covid lockdown and head into the local elections next month.
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall, said: “We have a vision for Stockport which would see us focus on tackling the climate emergency, moving power into the hands of local people and ensure that openness and transparency become a reality, not just hollow claims under the current minority Labour administration.
“Currently at Stockport Town Hall the Labour and the Liberal Democrat Groups are level on 26 seats each with the Conservatives on just 8, so this election is crucial to decide who runs the council. We hope residents will back our vision and support their Lib Dem candidate on 6th May.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, added: “We are ready to hit the ground running with a number of big changes planned for the first 100 days of the new civic year. From cleaning up our parks and open spaces to putting tackling the climate emergency at the heart of decision making, residents will notice the clear difference a Lib Dem Cabinet will bring to the borough as society opens back up after Covid.”
The action plan can be found at the link below:
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, has issued the following statement with the Leaders of the other political Groups on the council:
“On behalf of our residents, we would like to offer our deepest sympathies to the Royal Family on the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
We recognise the Duke of Edinburgh’s long service to our country and his dedication to Her Majesty the Queen.
As a mark of respect, Stockport Town Hall will be lit up purple and the flag flown at half-mast. Our condolences to all who mourn his loss.”
Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Stockport Town Hall, attended a locally-based Interfaith event yesterday to mark today’s national day of reflection.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hunter said: “I was very pleased to attend the Interfaith event to mark the national day of reflection on behalf of my Group. This was a time to pause and think about the unprecedented losses we have faced over the last year and share our hope for the future. It has been an incredibly difficult twelve months for everyone, particularly for those who have lost people dear to them.
“With the vaccination programme well underway and infection levels currently falling, I hope that the year ahead is a better one for us all. On the day of reflection itself I encourage all residents to mark the minute of silence at Noon and put a candle on their doorsteps in vigil at 8pm, as suggested by the charity Marie Curie.”
A link to the recording of the Interfaith event will be posted here, when available.
Following an extraordinary Scrutiny meeting last night attended by elected GM Mayor, Andy Burnham, and Deputy Mayor for Policing, Baroness Bev Hughes, Stockport Council Liberal Democrats have called for a step-change in the oversight of policing in Greater Manchester.
Speaking after the meeting, committee chair Mark Roberts, Lib Dem councillor for Bredbury Green and Romiley, said: “The meeting was called by Lib Dem councillors because of our concerns about the way the GM Mayoral team have handled the damning HMI report published last December. We were concerned that this was being handled too often through private meetings, with a lack of transparency and no real accountability to the residents of Stockport.
“We shone a light on this complex situation and we were able to clarify important matters, including when the Mayoral team knew just how damning the HMI report was and the fact that the Mayor instructed the former Chief Constable to step aside from his role.”
Charles Gibson, Lib Dem councillor for Hazel Grove, said: “During the meeting we highlighted the gap between the oversight of policing and the way all other aspects of political decision making across Greater Manchester are handled. Whilst the current Police Panel model is what is required by law, it is dominated by Labour cabinet members from across Greater Manchester, supposedly holding a Labour elected mayor to account.
“We have never done only the bare minimum when it comes to oversight and scrutiny in Stockport and we advocated for a much stronger scrutiny model to be developed and implemented for policing so that residents can be confident their elected members know what is happening and are holding the political decision makers to account.”
Cllr Angie Clark from Bredbury Green and Romiley, added “The Lib Dem Group will be pursuing Andy Burnham’s apparent willingness to improve the oversight of policing in Greater Manchester. It is a real shame it has taken the findings of an HMI report and pressure from Lib Dem councillors in Stockport for such improvements to become possible.
“We will be following up with recommendations for a politically balanced and transparent oversight and scrutiny model to be adopted.”