THE only Green Party representative on Worcester City Council has hit back at claims from one political rival that he is “pseudo-Labour”.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, deputy Tory group leader, has reopened an old feud with Cllr Neil Laurenson by calling him “Labour in disguise” and saying he is trying to fool voters ahead of next month’s elections.
But the attack has been refuted by Cllr Laurenson, who says he is independent of all other parties.
Cllr Laurenson, who made an historic breakthrough for the Greens by winning the party’s first ever city council seat in 2012, helped team up with Labour one year ago to vote through a shock coup to dump the Tories from power.
In recent weeks, he has distanced himself from the Labour administration and even voted against the budget in February, although it went through anyway with Liberal Democrat support.
Cllr Bayliss said: “This is a man who put Labour into power, so for him to pretend he wasn’t involved in any of it is utter nonsense.
“The Greens put them into power and his voting record shows he has kept them there.
“He’s now trying to distance himself from them because he knows being pseudo-Labour is no advantage to them at the elections.
But it doesn’t cut any ice.
“It’s time for the Greens to acknowledge they are Labour in disguise.”
But Cllr Laurenson has dismissed the claims as “nonsense”.
“It’s such a shame that Marc has to resort to this,” he said.
“He’s got a lot to offer, so why he has to make these claims I don’t know.
“I voted against the budget and council tax rise, those are the facts I prefer to stick to and people can judge me on what I do.
“Nobody thinks of elections in February anyway, it’s just nonsense.”
He says in future years, he is prepared to give “serious consideration”
to calling for a referendum to ask people if they are prepared to see higher council tax rises than the current two per cent limit.
When Labour took control of the city council last year, it dumped the Conservatives from power for the first time in 13 years.
The shock coup at the Guildhall saw Tory councillor Simon Geraghty ditched as leader and his entire cabinet dismissed as Labour, the Lib Dem and Green parties all teamed up to kick them out of office.