On the day of the first Full Council since the local elections there are claims that the new coalition administration planning to run Wealden District Council is “falling apart before it’s even begun” and that it “duped voters” in order to seize power.
The allegations come from the opposition Wealden Conservative group who point to election claims made by members of the new ruling Lib-Dem/Green alliance which simply cannot be met.
“Already we are seeing formal announcements from the new administration that they ‘won’t be able to complete everything’ they promised”, says Conservative leader Cllr Ann Newton.
Although the Conservatives polled higher than any other single party during the local elections, receiving 35% of votes, the Conservatives have been reduced to just nine members, comprising 20% of councillors, and have lost control of Wealden for the first time in decades.
The Conservatives say that they stood candidates 44 out of 45 wards to give voters a clear choice of a Conservative administration providing sound finances, lowest possible council taxes and quality services such as free car parking, while their opponents duped voters.
“It is interesting to note that having taken control, the coalition are saying that they cannot fully deliver on what they promised, while their decision to build a coalition which switches council leader every year threatens the chaos which we predicted,” adds Cllr Newton.
“Other parties clearly collaborated to deny residents a mainstream party choice, standing down candidates in a strategic anti- Conservative move. Yet, they seemed unwilling to inform voters that this was their intent. Their duplicity was highly successful.”
Deputy Conservative leader, Cllr Johanna Howell said that her Party respect and understand that voters have chosen a different route, although having been denied a full set of choices in many wards quite what that means is hard to interpret.
“A significant number of individual opposition candidates made promises that simply cannot be delivered”, she adds. “We have grave misgivings about how this journey will unfold for Wealden residents. As a consequence, we feel that it is our duty to become the formal opposition party holding the new coalition to account.”
The new administration is inheriting sound finances, highly-rated services, low debts, adequate reserves and slightly below-average council taxes for a shire authority.
“Rest assured, we will be watching closely and challenge unwise choices, inefficiency and waste”, pledges Cllr Newton who says that it will remain the Conservatives’ mission to fight for high-quality value-for-money services, sensible policies on the local environment, to strengthen our local economy, maintaining free car parking to protect local businesses in our towns and villages, and keeping local taxes as low as possible.