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Bristol mayor’s all-party offer throws Labour into disarray

The leader of the Labour Party in Bristol has resigned after a series of u-turns over the new mayor’s all-party cabinet.

Labour councillors were told they would not be allowed to accept the invitation to take up three positions in new elected mayor George Ferguson’s cabinet. Ferguson, pictured above, is an independent, who beat Labour’s candidate at the November 15 election in a surprise upset. However, he has decided to run a cabinet with a coalition of councillors from across the city’s main political parties.

Locally, the Labour Party were keen to take up the three offered positions in Ferguson’s cabinet, but were informed by the party’s regional office that this would jeopardise Labour’s ability to form a constructive opposition. Local Labour leader Peter Hammond has quit after being over-ruled.

The other three seats in the Cabinet are due to be filled by one Lib Dem, one Green and Conservative, proportional to the votes the parties received in the mayoral election.

A spokesperson for the South West Labour Party said: “After further careful consideration and after listening to a wide range of views across Bristol, and the wider Labour Party, we have decided not to enter the cabinet.

“We will support the Mayor when we agree with his decisions, and we want to be free to offer constructive alternatives when we believe a better solution is available. We will continue as a Labour Party to work with the local communities we represent, and to do our best for the people of Bristol.”

But Hammond said: “I am not simply a member of the Labour Party but its principal elected spokesperson in local government in Bristol – I am expected to publicly endorse and advocate Labour Party decisions.

“In all conscience I cannot publicly support a decision that runs contrary to the advice I gave to Labour councillors which they accepted by a majority decision as they are entitled to do.”

Bristol was the only city in May to vote ‘yes’ in a referendum to switch to an elected mayor system. When Ferguson won earlier this month, he made some instant decisions, including scrapping new on-street Sunday parking charges, and changing the name of the council HQ from Council House to City Hall. He has also chosen to take his salary in ‘Bristol pounds’.

The city currently has 32 Lib Dem councillors, 22 Labour, 14 Conservatives and 2 Greens.

(Image credit: Rod Minchin / PA Wire)

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


P.Speak   26/11/2012 at 12:29

Labour should not indulge in party politics. It is time everyone set aside their own personal egos and co-operates and works for the common good.

Timh   26/11/2012 at 15:03

With 32 Lib Dem councillors, surely they'd be the official opposition anyway? Or is the new mayor's ex Lib Dem status affecting that?

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