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Stalemate over Waveney council powerbase

PUBLISHED: 16:41 12 May 2011 | UPDATED: 17:19 12 May 2011

Mark Bee is to replaced as council leader on May 25

Mark Bee is to replaced as council leader on May 25

Archant © 2008

The battle for political power in the corridors of Waveney District Council was in chaos last night as the two main parties remained deadlocked over who should run the authority.

In the last week the Conservatives and Labour groups have been frantically trying to find a way to overcome a seemingly impossible political impasse following Friday’s election.

Last Friday the Conservatives lost overall control of Waveney and ended up with the same number of seats as Labour - 23 and which resulted in a hung council.

In a bid to end the political stalemate the Conservative leader Mark Bee has invited his Labour rivals to form a joint administration for the good of Waveney.

However the new Labour group leader Julian Swainson has refused the offer.

Mr Swainson said Labour can not work with the Tories because the Conservative had lost their political mandate from the electorate and the two party’s policies were too diametrically opposed.

Because the two parties will not form a coalition two other councillors, independent Peter Collecott and Graham Elliott, of the Green Party, have been catapulted into the political limelight.

Mr Collecott and Mr Elliott are being feted as king makers by the Conservatives and Labour groups as their votes could break the 23-23 deadlock at council votes.

On that night councillors will have to choose a chairman who will be given the casting vote which would either be used to support Tory or Labour plans to form an administration.

The Conservatives have enlisted the support of Mr Collecott, who represents the Oulton Ward, while Labour say Mr Elliott, of the North Beccles ward, will support them in the quest to shape council policy although he will not form an official coalition with them.

Mr Bee, who has been leader for nine years and who will step down on May 25 as leader, said the political uncertainty could have been avoided if Labour had accepted his round the table offer of having a joint cabinet with Mr Collecott becoming chairman.

Mr Bee, who represents Worlingham, said: “I believe it would have been a pragmatic and innovative way forward.

A joint executive would have been a good way forward for Waveney and the electorate.

“The offer is still on the table.

“It( Labour’s decision) clearly makes the situation more complicated when it did not need to be.”

Mr Bee said Labour has not recieved a political mandate to run Waveney as the party failed to clinch a majority.

In reply Mr Swainson, of Lowestoft’s Harbour ward, said: “It is difficult to see how realistic it would be for both Labour and the Conservatives to run the administration.

“I think people would be very confused, especially when both parties come from totally different angles.”

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