Lib Dems say they have not spoken to Tories about a council coalition

The leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Kirklees Council has appeared to distance himself from suggestions that there could be a post-election pact with the Tories.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Sunday, 10th April 2022, 11:00 am

John Lawson said he had not spoken with his opposite number in the Conservative group and stated: “There have been no discussions between the Liberal Democrats and any other group about the prospect of any kind of coalition. Those conversations have not taken place.”

Coun Lawson (Cleckheaton) confirmed the state of play – or lack of it – after Conservative leader David Hall and deputy John Taylor hinted that an informal coalition was achievable if the Tories made gains in key seats in the local elections on May 5.

Kirklees Council is currently made up of 33 Labour members, 19 Conservatives, nine Liberal Democrats, three Greens and five Independents.

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Coun John Lawson with ward colleague Coun Kath Pinnock close to the proposed Amazon site at Scholes near the M62

Consequently the council is in no overall control, with Labour running a minority administration.

In February Coun Hall (Liversedge and Gomersal) and Coun Taylor (Kirkburton) said the Conservatives would listen to public opinion and scrap contentious and unpopular road schemes if they take control in May’s local elections.

Alternatively, by working in coalition with other groups some key projects – such as the widening of the A629 Halifax Road in Huddersfield – could be re-assessed.

However, they may have jumped the gun as far as the deliverability of their pledge, which would need the support of the Lib Dems and possibly the Greens.

There is some common ground. Both parties have called for the £250m Huddersfield Blueprint to be paused with Coun Lawson requesting a post-pandemic review of the project and the Conservatives seeking clarity on budgets and borrowing.

Lib Dems have also campaigned heavily against proposals for a massive Amazon fulfilment centre on land off the M62 at Scholes. Conservatives have also met with objectors to hear concerns about the scheme.

One town hall source told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that a Lib Dem/Tory pact was “not likely” and offered the following summation: “If you have somebody in power that is doing badly but not badly enough to tip them over the edge, then keep them on the ropes.”

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