Future of council leadership in Milton Keynes should be known ‘by the weekend’

The future of the leadership of Milton Keynes Council is set to be decided ‘by the weekend’ says the new leader of the borough’s Liberal Democrat group.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 5:52 pm

Following Thursday’s local elections the Conservatives leapfrogged Labour to become the largest party with 24 seats, to Labour’s 19, and the Lib Dems on 13. There’s also an independent who supports his friends in the Conservative “family”.

On Monday three senior members of the Conservative group met with three Lib Dems in an online meeting to discuss issues.

Conservative leader Cllr Alex Walker (Stantonbury) said: “Initial conversations have been constructive.”

Lib Dem leader Cllr Bradburn

The kingmaker in the process is the Liberal Democrat group, which will give either of the other two main parties the 29 or more effective votes out of the council’s 57 seats to control the council.

If the Lib Dems plump for the Tories in some kind of arrangement it will mean that the reign of Labour’s Cllr Pete Marland will be brought to an end. It might not have to be a formal partnership.

Cllr Marland (Wolverton) was elected by the council to serve a four year term as leader. The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands it could come down to a vote of no confidence being tabled at next week’s annual meeting.

If ousted he will be replaced by Cllr Walker, who will be able to form a cabinet and push Labour onto the opposition benches.

The Lib Dems however will have to consider the partnership they had with Labour which has allowed them to honour manifesto commitments.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Robin Bradburn (Bradwell) said: “Our meeting with the Conservatives was a long and intense one and very informative.

“We are meeting with the Labour group tomorrow (Wednesday) and we expect it will have a similar format.

“The talks will be reported back to the Liberal Democrat group and it will be a democratic group decision.”

Cllr Bradburn said he wanted to give the people of Milton Keynes a decision by the weekend.

At the election count on Saturday, the Conservatives grabbed one of the Lib Dems’ heartland Newport Pagnell South seats.

And even though the yellow party hit back by scooping Broughton, the Tories also took two more at the marginal Campbell Park and Old Woughton and Shenley Brook End seats.

Tories at the count insisted that a defining issue for voters was the Lab-Lib partnership, and the yellow party faced further defeats next year if they didn’t change tack.

Others however said other issues were more important, including support for Boris Johnson, Brexit, and the vaccine rollout.

Today on the BBC council leader Pete Marland said: “Politics is about values, about principles and about what you want to deliver.

“Ultimately it will be if the Lib Dems agree with more things with the other party that they are willing to work with, and I think that’s Labour.

“If you look at the votes, more people voted for a centre left and centre party than they did for a right wing party.”