Lib Dems not inclined to form coalition if Rugby borough election tips the balance of power

The Conservatives go into this election with 23 seats, eight of which are being elected this time. The loss of two would see the council slip into no overall control.
One third – 14 – of the borough’s seats will be contested at the local election on May 4.One third – 14 – of the borough’s seats will be contested at the local election on May 4.
One third – 14 – of the borough’s seats will be contested at the local election on May 4.

The Liberal Democrats would be inclined to share power three ways rather than link with Labour or the Conservatives if they become kingmakers after Thursday’s Rugby Borough Council elections.

One third – 14 – of the borough’s seats are being contested in the Conservative-run authority that deals with housing, planning, council tax collection and rubbish among other things.

If a political party has more than half – the magic number is 22 in Rugby – of the elected councillors, it forms a cabinet to take charge of how the council fulfils its duties.

The Tories go into this election with 23, eight of which are being elected this time. The loss of two would see the council slip into no overall control.

Labour starts this election with 10 seats, three of which are being contested this year, while the Liberal Democrats hold nine with three of theirs up for grabs, including that of group leader Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Paddox).

If no party has a majority, the one with the most seats gets the first crack at striking a deal with others but Cllr Roodhouse, who predicts little change to his party's position, indicated he would take some convincing to create a formal alliance with either rival.

“With the national picture of the percentages in polls, you would expect to see a swing take place in Rugby, probably more towards Labour than us,” he said.

“We will hopefully maintain what we have, maybe take one Conservative seat in Bilton. That is very tight at the moment, it will be very close and I know the Conservatives have been in that ward a lot more than in previous years.

“I told both Labour and the Conservatives that they would need to put down on a piece of paper a clear indication of what they want to do for Rugby and the people of the town.

“We would consider those but it is unlikely we would want to go into coalition with Labour or the Conservatives so there may be a lot of negotiating to do.

“Being a small borough council, perhaps what we should be looking at is putting the best people into the jobs to get everything moving again.”

Asked whether that meant a committee-style power share involving all parties represented on the council, Cllr Roodhouse replied: “It is not unknown but we will have to see how things shake out on Friday morning.

“That was what I told Labour and the Conservatives, instead of trying to sort it out now lets just see where everything stands. I have been here before and things can change quite dramatically and quite quickly.”

Deputy leader of the Labour group Councillor Ish Mistry (New Bilton) also played down the prospect of an alliance, despite anticipating further progress after gaining two seats from the Tories last year.

He said: “We should gain seats but it is down to the public to decide. We have a lot to gain, if it goes into no overall control so be it. I would not want to predict figures but I think we are going to do well.”

On what would happen in the event of no overall control, Cllr Mistry said that Councillor Maggie O’Rourke (Benn) would be standing down as group leader but remaining on the council and that her replacement would be elected at an AGM shortly after the borough elections.

“Generally, we don’t form alliances at all,” he added.

“As far as we are concerned, we are not talking to either (rival party). The end game is to see what the position is, who has gained and who has lost.

“We are not going to be the major party unless we get a substantial number of seats, we are not two or three seats away from overall control so we will see what happens and leave it to the new leadership to decide what they want to do.

“We are not in that level of discussion of any sort, who we would go into bed with. It is all to play for.”

Cllr Mistry confirmed he would not be the new group leader but that he would be interested in remaining as deputy group leader.

There are Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party candidates standing in each seat with Reform UK options standing in two of the wards – one in Coton & Boughton, where leader Councillor Sebastian Lowe is defending his seat, and the other in Wolston & The Lawfords where deputy leader Councillor Derek Poole is seeking re-election.

Neither Cllr Lowe nor Cllr Poole were available for comment but the Conservatives have said that they have not discussed any power sharing agreements and are focussed on keeping their majority.

Click here to read the full article on the pledges made by each party: Rugby voters urged to have their say in borough elections

Related topics: