And so whilst the rest of us were enjoying the SUNNY COLCH Bank Holiday weather, the politicos of Colchester were trying to plot their way out of the electoral mess.
Following on from the inconclusive local election results last Thursday, the worst kept secret around town for the past 48 hours is now finally out in the open:
The LibLabIndie alliance will continue. LibDem Cllr Mark Cory will be the new Leader of the Council after Paul Smith lost his St Anne’s & St John’s seat.
It was more or less a Coronation for Cllr Cory. There is a severe shortage of talent / willing participants in the reduced LibDem Group of twelve.
It makes you wonder if a Plan B was ever in place, should the unfortunate situation regarding Cllr Smith actually happen.
But it did happen and Cllr Cory has finally found his way to the front of the queue.
He has performed very strongly in both Cabinet and Full Council since taking on the Finance portfolio. Political ambition has often taken a back seat.
Cllr Cory has been more concerned about his home patch of Wivenhoe then playing the Town Hall political game.
This is a brave move to take on. Cllr Cory has a career in teaching ahead of him – at least he thought he had until the early hours of Friday morning.
Running CBC and then taking morning assembly are incompatible. It appears that he has stepped forward to help his party rather than through personal ambition.
It wouldn’t have been a great look if the LibDems couldn’t push someone to the front of the line to prevent the Colchester Conservatives from seizing power.
The maths of the administration means that there is no space for public – or even private – squabbling.
Good luck with that one, Comrades.
Twelve LibDems, eleven Labour and three Highwoods Indies give a majority of one over the 25 Tory Cllr’s.
This will now become a very, very tense administration for Cllr Cory to manage, given some of the personalities involved.
They need to work together to prop each other up; but all the while both the LibDem and Labour groups will be wanting to become the senior partner.
The relationship between Cllr Cory and his Deputy Leader Cllr Tim Young is the one to watch. Cllr Young tried to remove Cllr Cory from Cabinet during the previous administration.
We look forward to observing the body language between the new Leader and his Deputy at Cabinet meetings…
Policy should be straight forward with the coalition hanging on to power. Nothing contentious will be proposed for the next twelve months.
The outstanding business of the Northern Gateway, Vineyard Gate and yep – #WHEELIEBINS will remain firm.
Don’t go expecting anything as radical as an overnight pedestrianisation of the town centre. The coalition can’t afford to lose a singe vote between now and the next set of elections in twelve months time.
But what of the bloody Garden Villages?
New LibDem Cllr Andrea Luxford-Vaughan in Wivenhoe was voted in around a campaign that was pretty much to fight the new settlements from being built.
All of a sudden she can have a major role in deciding the future of the Garden Village ambitions, and even the stability of the coalition.
The Tories will play fun and games, hopeful of toppling the new administration over the Garden Villages.
Don’t underestimate the willpower of Cllr Luxford-Vaughan. She will vote as she promised – to support her Wivenhoe residents and to back up her actions and justify them.
As for the Tories?
Darius will already be plotting his next move. He is just one seat away from being the new Leader of CBC. He will have the full packing of his party and won’t have to rely upon a flimsy alliance.
This opportunity should come in twelve months time with the next set of BONKERS election by thirds.
You don’t want to wish ill of anyone, but a by-election between now and next May could prove to be very interesting.
That tipping point has almost been reached for the Conservatives. The maths doesn’t quite get them over the line, but it’s difficult to resist the argument that the Tories have a moral claim to run the Council.
They should have finished off the Highwoods Indies when they had the chance…
Elsewhere and Green Mark Goacher will now be taken very seriously within the Town Hall. He may not have a seat, but his eleven votes short of winning in Castle ward is a sign of things to come.
With the coalition scrambling around looking for any form of support, Cabinet will be keen not to annoy Mark whenever he speaks at meetings.
And so twelve more months of LibLabIndie coalition in Sunny Colch.
The King is Dead, Long Live the King, etc.
We’re going to kinda miss Paul Smith. He was never rumbled, despite on many occasions when he really should have been.
Maybe that is more of a comment on the level of opposition and scrutiny that he faced?
Cllr Cory is in for a challenging twelve months. The success of the new administration will be judged on the level of support he receives from his coalition partners.