COUNCILLORS across Worcester’s political divide have continued the rumpus over the Guildhall leadership as Conservative leader Coun Marc Bayliss was re-elected to the top job.
Coun Bayliss should have been a ‘co-leader’ of Worcester City Council after the Green Party’s proposals for such were approved at a meeting on Tuesday (May 17).
However Labour refused to nominate a candidate to reflect their opposition to the Green Party’s amendments to the constitution.
And while Coun Bayliss has confirmed he ‘stands ready’ to work with his Labour counterpart, there is no indication such an offer will be accepted. The proposals were rejected by Worcester Labour chiefs and the city’s Liberal Democrats who branded them ‘naive’.
Following the results of the local elections on May 5, the Conservatives lost their majority and despite talks over a ‘progressive alliance’, the Green Party tabled a plan for city’s Tories and Labour to share the leadership with a power sharing arrangement filtering down through the various committees.
The proposal was approved by 21 votes to 14 but the vote to approve Coun Bayliss as a ‘co-leader’ went through by just one vote as 15 Conservatives voted for with 14 votes against from Labour and the Liberal Democrats and the six Green Party councillors abstained from voting.
“I hold out the hand of friendship and collaboration to anyone who wants to work together for the people of Worcester,” Coun Bayliss said.
“We are not in charge of Worcester, the people of Worcester are in charge.”
Despite his comments, furious Labour councillors echoed Liberal Democrat claims the co-leader plan was a ‘naive and unworkable’ solution.
“With the council falling into no overall control, but with an apparent progressive majority of councillors, the voters created a golden opportunity for progressively-minded leadership to take bold action,” a party spokesperson said.
“Worcester Green Party’s leadership invited the Conservatives to lead the city council. Green voters and activists alike should be aware here; Green leadership in Worcester has a long and unfortunate history of promising voters progressive values on the doorstep, but abandoning those values in favour of Conservatism once the votes have been cast.
However, Green Party leader Coun Louis Stephen lambasted the ‘lost opportunity’ for the Labour party.
“After nearly two weeks of negotiations and what we believe was a fair and equitable solution, we are disappointed the parties have chosen to put politics over people,” he said.
“We understand some of the Conservative councillors are difficult to deal with, but we think this is a lost opportunity for Labour to represent Worcester families and their wards.
“With the cost-of-living crisis starting to bite in every home and households having to make the choice between fuel and food, this is not a time for party politics.
“It’s a time for serving our communities and working to ensure the council does everything it physically can to ease the burden and support those most in need,” he added.