Cumbria update: Lib Dems quit joint Tory administration

by Stephen Tall on August 4, 2008

Last week Lib Dem Voice reported on Shenanigans in Cumbria, and the likely break-up of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition which has run the County Council since 2001 following the dismissal by the Conservative council leader of his Liberal Democrat deputy, Joan Stocker. Well, now, the inevitable has come to pass, and the Lib Dems have called an end to the joint administration, with the Tories now running the council as a minority group until the elections in 2009.

Here’s the local party’s press release:

LIB DEMS FORCED TO END PARTNERSHIP

Over the past week considerable work has been undertaken to repair the damage to the Partnership caused by the message sent by the Leader of the Council last Sunday. Progress has been made, including agreeing a substantial new portfolio for the Deputy Leader and an agreement on a joint statement being made.

However these alone are not enough. Effective working of the Partnership relies on there being trust, respect and confidence between the two Groups. The view of the Liberal Democrat Group is that, because of the recent unilateral actions by the Conservative Leadership, these no longer exist and are not likely to in the near future.

It is therefore with regret that the Liberal Democrat Group feel they have no option but to give notice to the Conservative Group of their withdrawal from the Partnership. Consequently Joan Stocker and Ian Stewart have tendered their resignations from the Cabinet.

Joan Stocker, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said:

“It’s not just about portfolios or apologies. It’s simply that the events of the last two weeks have led to a breakdown in trust between the two Groups. The Liberal Democrat Group cannot see how we can continue to work with the current Conservative Leadership.

It is sad that such a successful partnership has had to end in this way, but I believe that we can be proud of what we have achieved for Cumbria over the past seven years.

We helped rebuild Cumbria’s economy after foot and mouth; increased recycling by over five times; started the biggest investment there has ever been in Cumbria’s schools; virtually eliminated hospital bed blocking; and introduced the innovative Highway Stewards scheme to name but a few successes.

But the partnership has run its course and both Groups will now have to look to see how they can serve the people of Cumbria in the future.”