THE lone Green Councillor with the future of Worcester City Council in his hands has issued a warning to both Labour and the Tories – saying there would be “a price to pay” for his support.
Cllr Neil Laurenson has upped the ante as the city’s period of limbo stretches into its fifth day today – and insists he will take as long as he needs to make his mind up.
Your Worcester News can reveal the latest developments after several days of tense discussions.
- Worcester Labour Party and the opposition Conservatives had private talks last Friday to see what, if any, common ground was between them, but they went nowhere
- The city’s lone Lib Dem, Councillor Liz Smith, says she is “not about to jump ship” after she backed Labour last year, and has urged Cllr Laurenson to make his mind up either way
- Worcester Green Party was locked in internal talks last night, where a ‘wish list’ of demands was being firmed up to show to Labour and the Conservatives
- The Tories spoke to both Cllr Laurenson and Cllr Smith over the weekend, and still believe they can strike a deal to wrestle back control
The talks follow Thursday’s local election results which left the city council hung, and Labour on 16 councillors, with 17 Tory, one Lib Dem and one Green.
Cllr Laurenson said: “The two main parties have the option of sharing power if they want to.
“They have 33 out of the 35 seats between them, they don’t have to consult me.
“However if (either of) the groups wanted to try to gain full control of the council and wanted my support, there would be a price to pay – and that would be to take on board a number of Green policies.”
His hard line comes as Cllr Smith admitted “the cards are in Neil’s hands” given her own stance.
“A lot depends on what Neil does - in a conventional sense I am not about to jump ship,” she said.
“I felt last year that Labour would tackle the city’s financial situation and it’s done a good job.
“But it depends on what he comes up with. If his proposals cost an arm and a leg I wouldn’t necessarily be on board with that.”
Labour Councillor Adrian Gregson, city council leader, said: “Uncertainty is not good for the organisation, but the decision has got to be the right one.”
Worcester’s Conservatives are meeting tonight, and group leader Cllr Simon Geraghty said he is still aiming to do a deal.
“We will explore all the options which benefit the people of Worcester - but it could be some days before it’s entirely clear,” he said.