Huge ballroom booked for councillors in Milton Keynes to tango and tangle at their annual meeting

A huge ballroom has been booked for the return of face to face council meetings in Milton Keynes.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 2:51 pm

The annual meeting of Milton Keynes Council will take place next Wednesday (May 19) at The Ballroom at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at Stadium MK so that the 57 councillors, officers and members of the public can be safely accommodated.

Members of the public are being allowed in too, but seats will only be available on a first come, first served basis. The meeting will also be broadcast on the council’s YouTube channel.

It will be the first formal face to face meeting of councillors in more than a year after the Government and a court hearing confirmed that virtual meetings could not continue after May 7.

The Ballroom is at Stadium MK

At a cost to the council of “hundreds rather than thousands of pounds” the ballroom is in normal circumstances used as a wedding venue for up to 650 guests, for conferences for 1,000 delegates, awards dinners for 700 and dinner and dances for 650 people.

The annual meeting is normally a formality and involves the appointment of the new mayor, which is held on annual rotation by the three political parties.

This year it is Labour’s turn to take the non-political chain of office, with the current deputy, Cllr Mohammed Khan (Lab, Bletchley East) due to take over from Cllr Andrew Geary (Cons, Newport Pagnell North & Hanslope).

The new mayor will be tasked with applying the council’s rules, and keeping his colleagues in order as they are asked to confirm who will be the leader, the new cabinet and the holders of committee positions.

Talks to confirm the leadership of the council are taking place this week between the three political parties following a Conservative surge at last week’s local elections.

But the council remains in no overall control because none of the three political parties with MK councillors having at least 29 of the 57 seats they need to hold a majority on their own.

Following Saturday’s election count, the Conservatives leapfrogged Labour to become the largest party with 24 seats. Labour have 19 and the Lib Dems 13, with one Independent member.

As usual in MK two of the three parties need to tango to some extent to be able to command a majority, to appoint a leader and a cabinet of up to nine, and to secure enough support to pass a budget.

That can be a formal partnership, as Labour and the Lib Dems have had in the last municipal year, or could be some other arrangement to allow a leader to be appointed, and pass a budget to set the council tax next year.

The Lib Dems are due to meet Labour today (Wednesday) before deciding which of the two bigger parties will get the keys to the civic offices.