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Election latest: is Worcester going to be a green city?
WORCESTER City Council is today stuck on tenterhooks - with its fate set to be decided by a lone Green Party politician after a gripping night at the polls.
The aftermath of yesterday's dramatic local election results means Councillor Neil Laurenson will ultimately be able to strike a make-or-break deal over which major party controls Worcester.
The outcome will impact on people across the city - including everything from how much council tax you pay next year to issues like car parking charges and bin collections.
Labour, the Conservatives, Green Party and lone Lib Dem Councillor Liz Smith are now preparing to have tense cross-party talks in a bid to reach a conclusive outcome after the council was left hung.
The one Conservative gain in Claines has now left the main opposition party on 17 councillors, one more than the ruling Labour group, with Tory Councillor Simon Geraghty last night claiming they should be allowed to form an administration.
His call was backed up by Worcester MP Robin Walker, who says the Tories now "have a mandate" to wrestle back control from Labour.
It can only be achieved by striking a deal with either Cllr Laurenson or Cllr Smith - and neither are ruling out switching sides ahead of a crunch full council meeting on Tuesday, June 3.
Your Worcester News can reveal how Cllr Laurenson has prepared a 'wish list' he wants to show both Labour and the Tories before making his mind up.
It includes resisting privatising services, giving households free home insulation and opening up the Guildhall to groups who want to hold political debates.
"I'm prepared to talk to both the Tories and Labour to see what they are prepared to offer," he said.
"I anticipated this could happen so I've got a list which is more extensive than in 2012 - very broadly it's based on keeping as many services in-house as possible and where they are commissioned (handed to other providers), to do it locally.
"But we've got other things to discuss too - we want a fair hearing from both sides."
Cllr Smith, who dumped the Tories one year ago to back a new Labour council, said she was prepared to have "an open line of communication" with both sides.
"I'm not saying I won't talk to the Conservatives - I'll keep those lines open," she said.
Cllr Geraghty said: "We are open minded - this could go right up to June 3rd.
"We are now the largest party again, we won the popular vote - I'll be seeking to speak to all party leaders and reach out to them to see if we can form an administration."
Labour figures were locked in early private talks yesterday before deciding its strategy.
But Councillor Adrian Gregson, city council leader, said: "We will talk to whoever is prepared to talk to us.
"There is no evidence the Conservatives have ever reached out to us."
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