THE Forest of Dean Labour Party will vote for a Green councillor to lead the district authority this week but have ruled out a formal coalition.
Rumours had been circulating that Labour were set to enter into a coalition with the Greens, who had their best ever result in the Forest this month with 15 councillors elected, to run the council.
The Green Party had previously said their intention would be to form a “traffic light alliance” with Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Now Labour leaders have confirmed they will vote for a Green councillor to be the next leader at Coleford, but have ruled out entering a formal agreement with them.
Former Leader of the Council Tim Gwilliam (Berry Hill, Progressive Independents), who had hoped to form his own alliance to lead the council, tweeted last week to say he’d learned there would be a formal agreement between the Greens and Labour.
He said last Wednesday (May 17): “Just learnt that Labour will be supporting the Greens in the leadership and setting up the administration with them.
“I’m not surprised as that’s politics!
“I’m sorry to all who contacted me but the numbers are the numbers. I know Labour will rue this decision but thats their call.”
But Labour’s deputy group leader Di Martin (Cinderford East) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We are not going into coalition with the administration which is being bandied about.
“We will vote for the leader but we are not making any formal arrangements. We will vote on each proposal that comes forward. Confidence and supply, it’s called.
“I’m not saying there aren’t others who are going on the cabinet but we are not. We are not entering any formal arrangements.
“People are telling the world we are entering an administration with the Greens but that is factually incorrect.
“It will depend on confidence and supply. At the moment, the only thing we will do is vote for a Green leader.
“Of the democratically elected councillors, there’s 15 of them. They haven’t got overall control and that limits what gets through council. That’s a positive because there will be more cross party working on the council.”
The current political balance of the council is Green Party 15, Independents 11, Labour Party five, Conservative Party four and there are three Liberal Democrats.
The makeup of the next administration will be established at a full council meeting on Thursday (May 25).
Having seemingly conceded that he will no longer be leader of the council, Cllr Gwilliam tweeted what reads like a departing statement on Friday (May 19).
“So that’s that then. Six years, numerous suits, three heart operations, a gain of of 11 stone and a loss of 7 of those, a lot of meetings, 10 cabinet members, two defeated motions of no confidence, two lost front teeth, a pandemic, and a cost-of-living crisis later and I’m no longer leader of the council.”
He said his last duty was to attend a “well-earned” celebration of Lydney Dial-a-Ride at the end of last week.”
“On the way home I stopped off at Cannop Ponds, for no other reason than it’s been a key topic in the election and why we are where we are”, he added.
“Its also a very nice place to be of course.
“There were a few about, some dogs, cyclists and saw all the usual wildlife.
“And then it struck me. As beautiful as this place is, as wonderful and cherished as it is and as weak and feeble as all the so-called excuses about getting rid of them, might be: Saving Cannop Ponds is bigger than just those ponds and their future.
“Its about us, our community, the Foresters born and the ones who live here, its about all of us being told what we want doesn’t matter.
“Its about what we say not being important, its about what we deserve not being a priority.
“Its about others knowing better, deciding our future, deciding what you can get by with.
“The same people who tell you its ok for young people not to be able to afford a house to rent or buy.
“That its okay to send them to Gloucester and further for good quality education, that its ok to stop nearly all the public transport routes as if we don’t matter.
“Its about having to ask for help, for a job, for anything as if we are just there to enjoy what is done to us by people that know better.
“Its about us being done to and not done for.
“Its something we have been trying to change for six years.
“Its something we must all now fight for more than at any time.
“Its about saying no, what you’re telling us we can have is not good enough, it’s not what we want and its time you listened.
“Its about demanding more and demanding better.
“Saving Cannop Ponds is about more, its about saving US and our future.
“And I for one won’t stop shouting.”