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Collapse of coalition talks: Herefordshire Council leader's statement
HEREFORDSHIRE Council leader councillor Tony Johnson has turned accusations of “cynicism” back on the two leading opposition groups who rejected the offer of a coalition.
The Independent group confirmed this morning that it had unanimously voted against a coalition offer from the ruling Tory group with the council tied at 29-29.
It’s Our County said no over a week ago.
This afternoon, Coun Johnson released this statement in relation to the rejection.
I am disappointed that IOC and Independents have refused the offer to set aside political differences, take Cabinet places in this Council and cooperate for the benefit of Herefordians.
The Government is having to deal with the unprecedented liabilities left by the financial vandalism of the previous Labour Government. As a result, deep cuts are unavoidable leaving 160 Councils including Herefordshire with very few options and some extraordinarily difficult decisions. There is insufficient income to pay for all the services that have previously been funded. This is simple arithmetic and not a political statement.
IOC maintain that the problems are not because of cuts to income but because of bad management by this Administration. However, when asked “what would you have done differently and what difference would that have made to todays position”? they are strangely silent. I have said on many occasions, if anyone has any viable, affordable ideas – we are all ears.
Priorities must be made. Our priorities are:- To keep young people safe, to protect the vulnerable, and to invest in projects to improve roads, create jobs and build more homes for this and future generations. This is not necessarily a headline grabbing agenda but a clear focus to ensure that precious taxpayer’s money is spent in the best possible way for the people of Herefordshire. This is clearly an agenda that the opposition groups would rather not deal with or simply have no alternative. Their eyes are on the next election – not what is best for Herefordians.
This Conservative administration will continue to do what’s unavoidable but right and which includes much good news. The new livestock market goes from strength to strength, a new retail centre which will bring hundreds of much needed jobs, a rapidly growing success story of inward investment and jobs at Rotherwas, a swimming pool, a new archive centre, a new crematorium, a new main contractor with capital investment for our minor roads, a sound budget for next year as part of a three year plan etc. etc. most of which were opposed by other groups.
Against this record we are accused by the opposition groups of cynicism by making an offer to them of coalition. It is worth noting that we still have a majority vote in the Council and did not have to make an offer at all except as a natural progression of my stated intention since my election last May, to be inclusive in my approach as Leader.
Let us be quite clear, with their eyes on the next election, those groups are positively choosing to remain in opposition rather than deal with the hard job of making Herefordshire the best it can be.
I will leave Herefordians to decide who is cynical.
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