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Castle Point Council’s coalition talks break down
A THREE-PARTY coalition could be the way forward for Castle Point Council.
The authority hangs in the balance after Ukip wiped out Conservative control.
The anti-EU party gained five seats from the Conservatives in the local election – including that of council leader Pam Challis – to remove their majority.
No single party can now run the council on their own, but negotiations about the future stalled over the weekend and may not re-start properly until Wednesday, the Echo understands.
Dave Blackwell, leader of Canvey Independent Party, wants the council to be run by a coalition made up of his party alongside the Conservatives and Ukip.
The Eurosceptic party is understood to be receptive to the plan – which would make Castle Point one of the first places in the country where they gain power.
The Conservatives, who are still the largest party, are less keen.
Mr Blackwell said: “A power sharing agreement between all three parties would be for the benefit of the community.
“We can’t go it alone as Ukip and us would only have a majority of one, which would not be stable, and the Conservatives don’t have a majority.
“We won’t go into coalition just with the Conservatives, because local people have voted for Ukip in large numbers and they can’t be dismissed.”
The Ukip group chose new Appleton councillor Alan Bayley as its leader and Victoria ward councillor Paul Varker as deputy on Saturday.
Mr Varker said: “It’s early days yet and negotiations are still ongoing. It’s a hung council, so we’ve got to make sure each party gets their own people in there.
“We’re happy to work with both of them as a three-way split providing they’re happy with it and we can do what’s best for Castle Point.”
But Conservative acting leader Jeffrey Stanley, who has put himself forward for the role on a permanent basis, didn’t think the idea was necessary.
He said: “It’s certainly a difficult situation for everybody.
We’re still considering what to do and it’s too early to say what might come out of it. It doesn’t need to be all three parties, mathematically.
As the largest party, if we formed an agreement with the Canvey Independent Party that would give us a majority.
“If we formed an arrangement with Ukip that would give us a workable majority.
“Before I can say what will happen, I need to speak to all Conservative members.”
Talks between the groups may not resume until after the Tories choose their permanent leader on Wednesday.
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