NEGOTIATIONS between the main political parties are expected to get underway this week after last Thursday’s local elections left Stroud with a hung district council.
Despite losing five wards to Labour in a result that mirrored nationwide trends, the Conservative Party remain the largest group at Ebley Mill.
Immediately following the elections they had 22 seats, compared with Labour’s 16, the Liberal Democrats’ six and the Green Party’s five.
But after Stroud District Council’s Tory chairman John Hudson announced earlier this week that he would be leaving the party, the Conservatives were left with 21 members. Cllr Hudson’s resignation is potentially hugely significant because it could tip the balance of power on the council.
With only 21 seats the Conservatives could now be forced into opposition, if Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with a combined total of 22 seats, decide to create a minority administration.
However, it is also conceivable that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens will join forces to form a ‘rainbow alliance’.
Together the three parties would have a majority of 27 seats on the 51 member council.
Speaking today (Tuesday), Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Dennis Andrewartha revealed that his party had held preliminary talks with Labour and the Green Party about a possible coalition.
"We have had tentative discussions and we are waiting to hear from them again."
Cllr Andrewartha, who said he had not yet spoken to the Conservatives, added that he expected to hear from the other two parties over the next 24 hours.
Members of the Labour group will meet tonight to discuss their options.
The party gained the wards of Berkeley, Dursley, Rodborough, Stonehouse and The Stanleys in Friday’s elections – a result hailed as ‘fantastic’ by Labour’s deputy leader Chris Brine.
"We have gone out on to the doorstep and we have fought for local people on local issues," said Cllr Brine.
We have fought to protect the NHS and we have fought against the cuts to public services made by the Conservatives."
Tory leader Frances Roden said: "Inevitably there is a degree of disappointment with the results but one has to be realistic given what’s happened nationally and the issues with central government.
"As a council locally we have been doing very well but it is mid-term as well and that always has an effect."
On the topic of the government’s economic strategy she said: "Austerity is difficult for people to have to accept because it requires a degree of rigour and commitment."
Despite not gaining any new seats, the Liberal Democrats held onto Kingswood and Wotton-Under-Edge.
The Green Party lost the only seat they held in Nailsworth to the Conservatives and failed to win any new ones.
The new distribution of seats on SDC is as follows: Conservatives – 21, Labour – 16, Liberal Democrats – six, Green Party – five, Independents – two and Conservative Non-Group – one.
Results in full
Amberley and Woodchester: Rhiannon Wigzell (Con) 445, Sarah Madley (Lab) 176, Uta Baldauf (Green) 117. Turnout: 41.6%
Berkeley: Liz Ashton (Lab) 753, John Stanton (Con) 620. Turnout: 41%
Cainscross: Thomas Williams (Labour and Co-operative Party) 893, Deborah Westgate (Con) 495, Oliver Kirkham (Green) 212, Chris Moore (Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts) 152, Sylvia Bridgland (Lib Dem) 105. Turnout: 32.7%
Chalford: Debbie Young (Con) 945, David Taylor (Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate) 481, Richard Dean (Green) 381. Turnout: 35.6%
Coaley and Uley: Timothy Boxall (Con) 493, Amanda Griffiths (Green) 294, Tricia Leonard (Lab) 169. Turnout: 49.9%
Dursley: Doina Cornell (Lab) 880, Alex Stennett (Con) 543, Michael Stayte (Lib Dem) 277. Turnout: 33.1%
Eastington and Standish: Ken Stephens (Lab) 348, Richard James (Con) 271, Gerald Hartley (Green) 62. Turnout: 48.4%
Hardwicke: Russell Miles (Con) 564, Ian Butler (Lab) 533, Sally Pickering (Green) 131. Turnout: 31.8%
Kingswood: Paul Hemming (Lib Dem) 332, Harry Carr (Con) 150, Joan Moore (Labour) 65. Turnout: 33.3%
Minchinhampton: Nicholas Hurst (Con) 858, John Williams (Green) 412, Chris Holtom (Lab) 213. Turnout: 41.3%
Nailsworth: Emma Sims (Con) 789, Catherine Farrell (Green) 676, Jo Smith (Labour and Co-operative Party) 471, Stephen Dechan (Lib Dem) 72. Turnout: 35.7%
Painswick: Nigel Cooper (Con) 981, Graham Spencer (Green) 360, Sheila McGrath (Lab) 204. Turnout: 42.6%
Rodborough: Stephen Moore (Lab) 579, Christine Headley (Lib Dem) 490, Rodger Cuddington (Con) 333, Phil Blomberg (Green) 205. Turnout: 43.9%
Severn: Haydn Jones (Con) 707, John Greenwood (Lab) 296, John Howe (Lib Dem) 212, Susan Hartley (Green) 145. Turnout: 36%
Stonehouse: Mattie Ross (Labour and Co-operative Party) 1,151, Phil Bevan (Con) 537, Clare Sheridan (Green) 233. Turnout: 31.5%
The Stanleys: Steve Lydon (Lab) 582, Lawrie Hall (Con) 507, Nicola Hillary (Green) 236, Myles Robinson (Lib Dem) 43. Turnout: 41.6%
Upton St Leonards: Keith Pearson (Con) 552, Thomas Lydon (Lab) 132, Peter Adams (Green) 130. Turnout: 34.8%
Wotton-under-Edge: June Cordwell (Lib Dem) 1,007, Rich Williams (Con) 543, Charlie Burling (Lab) 413. Turnout: 38.4%