Southend 'Rainbow coalition' could scrap Tory schemes including the Shoebury Seawall (From Southend Standard)
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'Rainbow coalition' could scrap Tory schemes
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a seawall in Shoebury, close care homes and remove librarians could be scrapped under a new rainbow administration at Southend Council.
Independent, Labour and Lib Dem councillors are set to team up and take power at the Civic Centre – ending 14 years of Tory rule.
Senior Independents, along with the leaders of Labour and the Lib Dems, met the town clerk yesterday to thrash out a deal that could see Ron Woodley, Independent councillor for Thorpe, become council leader at a special meeting next Thursday.
His cabinet would be made up of Independents, Lib Dems and Labour councillors and it is believed they would start dismantling controversial Conservative policies.
Mr Woodley, who challenged former Conservative leader Nigel Holdcroft for the leadership of the authority two years ago, said: “If I were asked, I would be prepared to stand again. I’d treat it more as guidance than leading.”
Labour leader Ian Gilbert said: “The election was a vote for change and at the moment we are looking at ways to deliver that change. With the situation so complex I can’t rule anything out, but it’s highly unlikely we can do a deal with the Conservatives.”
Independent spokesman Martin Terry said: “Detailed negotiations are ongoing.”
At last Thursday’s election, the Conservatives lost nine seats, leaving no group with overall control. The Tories now have 19 seats, the Independent group 12, Labour, nine, Ukip five, Lib Dems five and there is one non-aligned independent member.
The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems have all ruled out working with Ukip, leading to the complex coalition plan.
Controversial Tory-made decisions which could be looked at again include the closure of care homes Priory House and Delaware House, which more than 10,000 objected to; the construction of a 7ft seawall across Shoebury Common, which more than 2,000 wrote letters against, and plans to remove staff from some libraries across the borough, which more than 3,000 people campaigned against.
Independent councillors are likely to get three cabinet posts, as well as the leadership, with Labour getting two and Lib Dem leader Graham Longley, getting the remaining role.
As part of the agreement, Labour is also likely to push for a commitment to build council houses.
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