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Letter to the editor: Conservatives respond to Labour departures

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Dear Sir,

In light of recent events in respect to break-ups within the Labour Grouping, the Conservative Group on Stroud District  Council felt now was the time to share with you our views. Having taken time to reflect and gather our thoughts, we collectively now wish to share them with you given that your Green Party now sits as the largest group within the ‘Rainbow  Alliance’ tasked with leading the District. 

The ‘Rainbow Alliance’ has run Stroud District Council for the past 12 years. Throughout this time it has been led by the  Labour Group. In last year’s election, you will recall that our group returned the largest number of councillors with 19  seats, not enough though for a majority. Instead, the Labour group (15) combined with the Greens (13) & the Liberal  Democrats (3) forming the Rainbow Alliance.  

In the past month, the leader of our council, Cllr Cornell, was deemed unfit by the Labour Party to even make their long list as a parliamentary candidate. The Labour Party noted that she did not meet the standards required to make the list. This was clearly a shock to Cllr Cornell, who only weeks before announced she wanted to be their candidate. Sadly this was just the beginning, with Cllr Cornell then leaving the party on the eve of the actual candidate being announced. Since then, we have seen accusations by Labour Cllrs relating to bullying by their own Group Chairman followed by more resignations from the party i.e. councillors Hall, Layfield & Fryer. All played out in public, this is an awful reflection on the Alliance, and the people across our district deserve much better.  

Despite all this negativity, the position we now find ourselves in has the potential to become positive.

We accept that our Conservative Group did not win enough seats for an overall majority. Given the new make-up of the Alliance (Greens 13,  Labour 11, Lib Dems 3, Independents 4) it is now clear the Alliance must be led by the Green Group. This includes the position of Leader of the Council being a Green. 

The Stroud Conservative Group want to put on record that it would support the Greens leading the Alliance until the next elections and would support a Green leader. We see that Green leadership is the only way the Alliance can remain intact with any credibility. Historically there has always been more agreement than disagreement across all parties at Stroud  District Council, this includes the Strategic Plan that you have created as the existing Rainbow Alliance. In light of this we have offered to work with the Green Party in a coalition, as we believe we would be a better implementation partner than the now dysfunctional Labour Group, sadly you rejected this offer. 

As the largest party, we urge your group to act now to restore public confidence in our district council. Without this change, the council will continue to be mired by the internal conflict currently tearing up Stroud Labour. We urge you to take action.  

To conclude we point out that failure to take the reins now that you are the biggest group would be undemocratic. The  20,316 people that voted for you now expect you to step up. The country is watching to see if the Greens can lead this  Alliance. Failing to do this and to continue to be led by a dwindling Labour group or even worse a tiny pool of independents would confirm what many of the electorate already think, a Green vote is just a protest vote. This is your chance to prove them wrong. We urge you to take action. 

We look forward to supporting you in taking control of the Alliance and will support your selection of a new leader.

Best wishes, 

Stroud Conservative Group

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