York Green Party

"Rainbow alliance" possible following defection of Labour Councillor

12 September 2014

Greens in York could hold the balance of power in the city following the defection of Labour Councillor Helen Douglas to the Conservative Party. Councillor Helen Douglas announced her departure from the Labour party yesterday, criticising the local party's ruling style. She said that the national Labour Party had no vision, and that the local party's aims were 'misguided'.

If Labour lose the forthcoming Westfield by-election they will also lose overall control unless the Greens can be persuaded to support them. Green Group Leader Councillor Andy D'Agorne said that the Greens would be open to discussion with Labour about what support they might give to secure a local plan for York and for the budget to be set.

However this would depend on a more sustainable package - especially regarding the numbers of new houses proposed for the next 15 years. Cllr D'Agorne also raised the possibility of a 'rainbow administration' after the next election should the Greens remain in the position of holding the balance of power.

Andy said "The Lib Dems lost power as an unpopular administration and now Labour's power is ebbing away. Conservatives would be just as unpopular in time, privatising and slashing basic services, in line with government mandates. We believe York residents could be best served by a cross party alliance drawing on the best of each group and a return from the present centralised cabinet system to a committee system of power as still applies in Brighton where the Greens run the council."

Cllr Douglas's defection came after she was deselected as a candidate for Clifton Ward, and is the third in the recent years. The late Lynn Jefferies, former Councillor for Westfield and a prominent disabled rights campaigner, stood down in August 2012 and veteran Councillor Brian Watson left the party to stand as an independent in May.

Andy said "Labour's tight whip system and autocratic management has clearly contributed to the recent resignations. The Greens want to see councillors of all parties working together more in the interests of York, making the most effective use of limited funds."

If Labour lose overall control, the long-awaited York Local Plan - which would be York's first approved statutory planning policy since the 1950s - is at risk again.

"Two years ago it was the approval of the Vangarde retail centre that torpedoed our local planning framework. We will work with either Labour or the Tories and Lib Dems specifically to secure a local planning policy with less damaging levels of development than currently proposed, in place before next May. That doesn't necessarily mean our support on other issues. Our focus will be on what is right for the people of York, social justice and the future of our heritage and planet.

"Green representation on the council after the local elections next May would help to strengthen the case for an all party administration in York, working in the interests of the city rather than factional party interests."

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