A report from Lancslive informs us “Labour retained the leadership of West Lancashire Borough Council last night but saw its power dented as it lost control of a series of key committees.
Cllr Ian Moran was re-elected as leader at a full council meeting in Ormskirk but an alliance between the Conservatives and the Our West Lancashire (OWL) group saw the parties seize the chairmanship of crucial committees as well as ending Labour’s majority memberships on those.
The two parties seized on Labour’s loss of overall control in the recent elections as they submitted joint proposals for the makeup of the council over the next year.
Also present was Independent James Upjohn [pic by Roger Blaxall]
In what could prove to be a significant change, OWL chair Cllr Adrian Owens was appointed chairman of the Executive Overview Scrutiny Committee, which now comprises five Labour members, four Conservatives and two OWLs.
The party also now has a minority of members on the planning committee, which will be chaired by Conservative councillor David O’Toole.
The power of that alliance was seen early on as OWL councillor Gordon Johnson was elected Mayor, ahead of the Labour suggestion. Although largely ceremonial, the role comes with a casting vote numbers are tied.
Pic below from Roger Blaxall
Labour proceeded to narrowly lose a series of votes, in part as a result of the absence of one of its councillors, Ron Cooper, from the meeting.
After being named as leader again, Cllr Moran said: “We will be working together, we will get involved as many people as possible. The borough has been hit very hard by Covid and it’s going to take a lot to get it back to any sort of normality so we have to work together.”
Cllr Owens had earlier argued that allowing Labour to press ahead with its own proposals to continue running these committees would have been unfair and fail to reflect the outcome of the elections.
After the meeting, he told LancsLive “We wished to work with all parties believing that was the best way forward for the borough. However, Labour did not speak to us during the period from the election count to last night.
“A Labour minority administration was therefore the only feasible route left available and we facilitated that. If Labour stop adopting a “winner take all attitude” especially as in the recent elections they didn’t even win, then Our West Lancashire are ready to work with them to take West Lancashire forward.”
Comment. Lucky we are that we didn’t see Wally the Tory party leader elected to lead the council, a narrow escape from such a fate. And where was Labour Cllr Ron Cooper?