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Evidence of a 'deal' over Mayor's appointment
MORE evidence is mounting of a 'deal' which saw the new Mayor of Worcester installed in return for voting in a Tory administration - as the man at the centre of the saga continued his silence.
Your Worcester News can reveal:
- Last Friday Cllr Alan Amos rang up Labour councillors to say the party had "24 hours" to make him their deputy mayor candidate or he would walk
- Incredibly, Councillor Jabba Riaz then offered to step aside as deputy mayor for the sake of 'harmony in the party', but Cllr Amos quit anyway
- The Tories had already decided that Councillor Roger Knight would be their candidate for the Mayor of Worcester, but they later told him it would be Cllr Amos after private talks with the 'independent'
- Councillor Simon Geraghty, new city council leader, brokered the talks with Cllr Amos and said he saw it as "an ideal solution" for the council
- Councillor Marc Bayliss, his deputy leader, was at County Hall last Thursday talking to Simon Mallinson, the county council's legal chief, about the political balance at the city council, although he insists it was innocent
It came as Cllr Amos, who quit Labour on Sunday before becoming an 'independent' and voting in a new Tory administration on Tuesday, refused to talk about the deal.
"I won't be getting into any of that, I want to move on now and concentrate on being the Mayor of Worcester," he said.
"At the end of my year I will tell you everything, because I'll be a politician again.
"I'm not getting into this."
Sources say Cllr Amos rang up people in the Labour Party late on Friday to say group leader Adrian Gregson had one day to make him their deputy mayor candidate, a role at that point which had already gone to Councillor Jabba Riaz after an internal vote.
Cllr Riaz then agreed to step aside, but Cllr Amos still went ahead and delivered his resignation letter on Sunday anyway.
Both the Conservatives and Cllr Amos have refused to go into details about their subsequent deal struck before Tuesday's crucial vote, but the horse trading included telling Councillor Roger Knight that he would no longer be the Tory's mayoral candidate, and instead it would be the ex-Labour man.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, new city council leader, said: "A discussion was had with him because we wanted to try and understand his reasons for wanting to be the mayor.
"It dawned upon us that this would be a good solution (a deal) - no single party has an overall majority and in this tight scenario, we've got an independent mayor that I have no doubt will look at each issue on its merits."
MY 'WISH LIST' IS IN THE BIN, SAYS CITY GREEN
THE city's lone Green Councillor has revealed his frustration at being sidelined - after it emerged nearly all of his 'wish list' is being confined to the dustbin.
For 10 days after May's local elections left no party in overall control, Councillor Neil Laurenson negotiated with both the Tories and Labour over some kind of 'Green deal'.
His eight-point sheet of demands is now virtually all dumped, despite the city's Conservatives insisting they want to have an open dialogue with him.
The Tory leadership has told him they are interested in webcasting council meetings, but ideas like a food waste pilot, no privatisation of services and free home insulation are off the agenda.
Cllr Laurenson also said he was "embarrassed" by the mayoral saga - saying it has damaged the council's reputation.
He said: "They said they'd like to talk to me about webcasting meetings and the opening up of democracy in the council, so fair play to them for that.
"But that was the only thing they've mentioned. It's better than nothing but it's so frustrating what happened when we were on the cusp of getting Green policies on board at the council.
"The situation (with Cllr Alan Amos) is very sad, it seems like a personal ambition has come before anything else.
"I do think the whole situation could have been avoided if Labour had put more thought into their deputy mayoral candidate.
"That obviously led to Alan hooking up with the Tories.
"It is embarrassing. Whatever I say will be construed as sour grapes but I don't think that is what it should be about."
Tory Councillor Marc Bayliss, meanwhile, the city's deputy leader, has defended the arrangement.
"Alan's unhappiness has been fairly obvious for a very long time," he said.
"When you look at the people who have left Worcester Labour Party over the years, the list goes on.
"What is the fundamental difference between what Alan's done and what the Green or Lib Dem wanted?"
A raft of new councillor appointments to key committees have been confirmed amid the change of power.
Tory Allah Ditta now chairs the licensing committee, while former Labour city leader Adrian Gregson will chair the scrutiny meetings.
Labour's Geoff Williams, the city's former deputy leader, now heads up the planning committee and ex-mayor Pat Agar will chair the the audit panel.
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