The local elections on May 6th will result in another “hung” Council, with no party in overall control.
In May 2018 the Council needed a change from the disastrous Banwait leadership. Although, after those elections, Labour was the party with the most seats (23), that was not sufficient to lead the Council as 26 are required. The Lib Dems and UKIP (now Reform) chose to support the Conservatives in their bid to lead the Council.
Since 2018, 5 Conservative Cllrs have left the Party due to various reasons but mainly related to issues with the conduct of the local leadership. They currently have 17 Cllrs. [ Labour 14; Lib Dems 9 ; Reform 5 ; Independents 5 ; vacant 1]
On May 6th 18 seats ( additional 1 due to Lisa Eldret – Labour – standing down) are up for election. This will result in limited movement in these numbers with the most likely result being that both Conservatives, and Labour, lose seats to the smaller parties, thus eroding their authority, or mandate, to lead the Council, alone.
In 2018 the 2 largest parties held 43 ( 84%) seats – this has plummeted to 31 (61%) seats – it has never been this low in the last 15 years and is reflective of the rise of Reform Derby and Independents.
There have been 2 occasions in the last 15 years when there have been formal coalitions ( i.e. the Cabinet has members from 2 parties).
- 2006-2007 – Labour (24) Conservatives (11)
- 2011 – Conservative (16) Lib Dems (16)
Unusually, in 2008, the Lib Dems led a minority Council with 18 seats ; this was facilitated by the Conservatives abstaining in the leadership vote.
There is a zero chance in May 2021 that Labour and Conservatives will form a coalition. It is unlikely, with the current Conservative leadership, that any of the Independents would give their support. Which leaves the options finely balanced – it will require some delicate negotiations.
In 2018, the Conservatives had an “open goal” with the City being sick and tired of Banwait’s leadership and the unnecessary cuts he was implementing. In just 2 years, the Conservatives, have managed to demonstrate that they are not good leaders, bereft of any vision, incapable of being competent in open communication , with their signature demonstration of ineptitude being the failed attempt to refurbish the Assembly Rooms.
The Leadership of the Conservatives, and especially the Poulter/Barker Axis , seems lethargic , out of its depth, and distant, with a good proportion of their backbench Cllrs being disenfranchised and frustrated.
In Derby City Council, the party system does not work to the advantage of the residents. It is a self-serving, self-indulgent construct that promotes “amateur theatre”, divisiveness, poor policy making and a considerable amount of wasted time. The sorry tale of the Assembly Rooms is evidence for that.
There was talk in 2018 of a better collaborative style with the will to implement a “committee system” which would have been more inclusive of a range of ideas. This was a cornerstone of the informal arrangement that secured the Conservative leadership. Whilst it was pursued it defaulted through lack of will. If it was re-vitalised it would be at least a year before it could be implemented.
The Party “labels” dis-engage large populations of people in the City who are ideologically against the “other “ parties for no rational reason. The fact that the Labour administration failed on the A52 is nothing to do with left wing politics and everything to do with lack of personal capability. In much the same way that a Conservative policy to refurbish the Assembly Rooms was not born from firmly held Tory philosophy…. It was simply because it was not the Labour party policy!
The monopoly of competence does not exist in one Party.
The City needs to be freed from the leadership of the Poulter/Barker Axis – it is simply not delivering. Unless they resign in the 3 weeks after May 6th, prior to the AGM, then that opens up possibilities for a creative ways forwards.
A formal Coalition, with a split of the Cabinet seats between Labour, Lib Dems and Reform will provide a positive way forwards for the City. Arguably, the only way forwards that serves the interests of the people of Derby.
Categories: Derby City Council