Tories put Lab-Lib Dem partnership under pressure as they bid to take power in Milton Keynes

The Tories are putting intense pressure on the Liberal Democrats to end the partnership that has seen Labour lead Milton Keynes Council since 2014.

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 10:45 am
Updated Sunday, 9th May 2021, 10:48 am

Tories put Lab-Lib Dem partnership under pressure as they bid to take power in Milton Keynes

The Tories are putting intense pressure on the Liberal Democrats to end the partnership that has seen Labour lead Milton Keynes Council since 2014.

It was a day of high drama as seats changed colour during Saturday’s count and declarations were made in the surreal surroundings of a covid-secure Saxon Court.

Tory leader Alex Walker celebrates with a fist pump

Conservatives won seven seats, but lost one, gaining six in total.

Labour bore the brunt of the Tory charge, the blues ripping out four of the reds’ heartland seats in Stantonbury, Stony Stratford and Bletchley, claiming the scalp of long serving socialist Nigel Long in the process.

But Labour held onto Cllr Zoe Nolan’s marginal Loughton and Shenley seat, actually increasing their majority.

The Cons also beat the Lib Dems in three seats but lost to them in one as the Lib Dems took the third seat in Broughton.

Nolans are in the mood for winning. Mother and son councillors Zoe and Ben Nolan

Taking of Newport Pagnell South, on paper the safest Lib Dem seat in the borough, provided the Tories with the jewel in their crown.

Tory leader Cllr Alex Walker (Stantonbury) said: “This is a dream day for us. I was hoping for around three or four gains and that would have been a very good day for us.”

He put the gains down to residents crediting the Government for the vaccine roll out. “I knocked on one door where they said they have four jabs and two votes,” he said.

And Cllr Walker added: “It’s a rejection of this partnership.

“We want to lead the administration to get MK back on track and we should be allowed to do so. It’s very much down to the Lib Dems to decide to back change or they continue struggling on with this failing partnership with Labour.”

Asked whether he would work in partnership with other parties he said it is going to be a long weekend of discussions.

“I don’t think I will be looking for a partnership with other parties,” he said. “But there are many, many different ways of allowing us to take the administration and ways of working and I think that is the discussion we will be having this week.”

To form an administration the Conservatives would have to be allowed to have the leadership of the council, form a cabinet and to get a budget approved as a minority leadership.

Labour cabinet member Cllr Emily Darlington (Bletchley East) said: “There’s a period of days where the parties talk to each other and see which parties are willing to work together for the betterment of all residents in Milton Keynes.”

She said though that the hard work of Labour councillors meant that the national swing to the Tories had not been reflected as much in MK.

“We’ve actually seen the Labour vote go up, which is reassuring to us,” she added, pointing to their candidate finishing in second place in rock solid Tory Olney, with 1,000 votes.

“We’ve stepped in where the Government has failed, with our testing centres and the food support we’ve had to put into schools,” she said.

“We are willing to work together with people willing to work with us,” she added.

“There is no majority and we hear that message over and over people saying why don’t you put politics aside and work together especially during a pandemic.

“What the people have said is they want us to work together so let’s do that,” she added.

Lib Dem deputy leader Cllr Robin Bradburn (Bradwell) said: “My door is always open but the Conservatives haven’t made any approaches.”

Other Lib Dems said they would need to be able to share policies with another party. “We are a left of centre party and the Conservatives don’t offer those policies,” one said.

The Lib Dems are set to hold their annual meeting on Sunday (May 9) to make a decision.