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UPDATE: Battle for power at Waveney District Council

PUBLISHED: 09:48 10 May 2011

JULIAN SWAINSON
EADT 18 07 06
EADT 11/3/08

JULIAN SWAINSON EADT 18 07 06 EADT 11/3/08

Two councillors who hold the key to the balance of power at Waveney District Council are expected to reveal their decisions this week.

"I think there is some legitimacy in our looking to work with both of them."

Julian Swainson, new leader of Labour in Waveney

While the Conservatives lost overall control of the council at last week’s election, Labour gained eight seats. The result was a hung council with 23 Labour, 23 Conservative, one Green and one Independent.

Even before the results had been declared on Friday afternoon, it became clear that the Conservatives would spend the next 48 hours courting Independent Peter Collecott, who represents the Oulton ward, and Green candidate Graham Elliott, who held on to his seat in the North Beccles ward, in a bid to form an alliance.

Labour, who appointed Julian Swainson as their leader on Sunday, are in talks to do the same.

Yesterday, the two councillors who hold the key to the balance of power at Waveney said they will make their decisions this week.

Both Mr Elliott and Mr Collecott have spoken to Conservative and Labour groups and to each other.

“It is a momentous decision to have to make and I am keeping all my options open,” said Mr Collecott.

“I have been talking to various people and in maybe a day or so I will come to a decision.”

Mr Elliott added: “I’ve heard what both group leaders have to say and negotiations have been very positive. I will be able to say more very soon.”

Newly elected councillor Mr Swainson, who is representing the Harbour ward in Lowestoft, said: “I think there is some legitimacy in our looking to work with both of them.

“It’s a very tight and very difficult situation. We’ve got to approach it with common sense and humility.

“We’ll have to see what arrangements we can make with the other parties, but we would only enter into such an agreement if the result was a stable council.”

Labour’s Tod Sullivan, who held his seat in Lowestoft’s Whitton ward, believes the party is in a strong position. “We need to explore the options,” he said.

“We’ve got quite a strong mandate; the wards we represent equate to quite a lot more people than the Conservative wards.”

Conservative leader Mark Bee, who is due to step down as leader on May 25 as he prepares to take the helm at Suffolk County Council, believes his party is in an equally strong position.

His replacement is due to be elected on May 18.

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