New administration gets to work at Wealden District Council

Liberal Democrat and Green Party councillors on Wealden District Council have reached an agreement to form the Alliance for Wealden, a cross-party co-operative group that will run the council for the next four years.

Following the District Elections earlier this month, the political make up of Wealden council has changed from a Conservative administration to a collaboration between the Liberal Democrats and Green Party.

The 4 May elections saw 13 Liberal Democrats elected alongside 11 Green Party members, 10 Independents, nine Conservatives and for the first time ever in Wealden’s history, two Labour councillors.

Although no party had an overall majority, the Liberal Democrats’ win of 13 seats make them the largest party on the council and with the Greens’ 11 councillors, discussions have taken place and led to an agreement to form a decision making Cabinet committee – consisting of four Liberal Democrat councillors and three Green Party councillors.

The new leader of the council is Liberal Democrat Councillor James Partridge and the deputy leader is Green Party councillor Rachel Millward, who will also hold the portfolio for Housing & Benefits. The leadership will rotate annually between the two group leaders.

Both councillors said they have had “amicable, brisk and business like” discussions since the elections, which led to the alliance agreement.

Liberal Democrat group leader and new  leader of the council James Partridge spoke with optimism and enthusiasm about the newly formed working alliance with the Greens.

He said, “We are absolutely on the same page about all the important local issues and thus were able to quickly reach an agreement to form            a combined team that will ensure competent and effective governance over the next four years.

“Our focus is to bring about the changes for which the majority of the Wealden electorate voted.           I am really looking forward to leading that team     for the next year.”

Rachel Millward, Green Party group leader, said, “Residents made  it clear at the ballot box that they  are desperate for change.  We are delighted to        bring in a new era of collaborative local politics to better serve our residents, and better protect  nature.

“Change takes time, and we won’t be able to achieve  everything we’d like to due to central government restrictions. But we will be working hard together to improve Wealden for all.”

The new Cabinet committee members are portfolio holder for Finance & Human Resources Greg Collins, a Green Party councillor; the new lead member for Planning & Environment is the Green Party’s Ian Tysh; Liberal Democrat Gareth Owen-Williams takes over as portfolio holder for Waste & Customer Services; the new portfolio holder for Climate Change, Economy & Wellbeing is Liberal Democrat Paul Coleshill; and the new lead member for Public Health & Asset Management is Liberal Democrat Kelvin Williams.

In addition, newly elected Green Party councillor Christina Coleman will become Wealden District Council chair with Liberal Democrat councillor Gavin Blake-Coggins appointed deputy chair.

All appointments are expected to be ratified at a Full Council meeting next Wednesday, 24 May.