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Handshake between Michael Dixey and Alan Baldock
New council leader Alan Baldock (Labour, right) and deputy leader Michael Dixey (Liberal Democrat, left) shake hands outside the Guildhall in Canterbury Westgate Gardens. Canterbury Labour / Liberal Democrats

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Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition announced

(updated )


This story has been updated with details of the Labour party statement and a revised list of policies.

Twelve days after local elections that left Canterbury City Council in "No Overall Control", Labour and the Liberal Democrats have formed a coalition. The Green Party said Labour were unwilling to form a three-way group with them.

Nailbourne Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Sole wrote about the decision on Tuesday evening in a Facebook post and Canterbury Labour group published a similar statement on Wednesday morning.

Many of the agreements - summarised below, will happen in the "first 100 days", or, in plain English, by the middle of August.

  • A cabinet of 9 members, 6 Labour, 3 Lib Dem. This exactly mirrors the proportion of seats won in the election (Labour 18, Lib Dem 9). Leader: Alan Baldock (Lab), Deputy: Michael Dixey (LD). Lord Mayor etc. to be confirmed at council meeting.

  • "Tangible actions" to increase social housing provision.

  • Agreement to scrap City Centre traffic "zoning" proposal. Our comment: shortly before the election, even the Conservatives said they would seek to remove this from the local plan, after the overwhelming negative response.

  • Agreement to scrap City Centre eastern and western bypass schemes. Our comment: it may be worth mentioning this is the one item that only Mike Sole talked about, it's not specifically mentioned in Labour's press release, though it was prominent in their manifesto and election posters. There should be more clarity on this later. Funds for the bypass were to come from the large amount of housing, including R1 (Adisham) and R20 (Womenswold), but its removal doesn't guarantee the council would automatically cancel R1 - they could, for example, choose to use money from a similar or smaller development to pay for something else. (Cllr Sole's cabinet role will be finance.)

  • Cross-party working group (size and membership not yet known) for redrafting the Local Plan. In Mr Sole's message, he restated the Liberal Democrat proposal of reducing the plan by 5 years (to 2040) as a way of reducing the housing required, as well as his party's pledge to drop unpopular sites like R1 and R20 completely.

  • Restoring the city centre market (Labour, Lib Dems and Greens were all in agreement on this anyway, though the exact location and size of the new market hasn't been agreed).

  • "Parking Strategy Review" and pause in further sale of city centre car parks. Both parties talk about possibility of reopening the Sturry Road Park and Ride and "provision" of walking and cycling routes.

  • Working group on holiday rentals, short term lets and tourist accommodations.

Disappointment for Green Party

On Monday, the Green Party published a press release expressing disappointment after they "were told by the local Labour Party that their National Executive Committee in London has vetoed any local coalition" which included them. (as in Banbury).

Responding to a question from former Canterbury Lib Dem leader Alex Perkins, Mr Sole said his party had favoured a three-way group. The Greens, who won four seats overall, did not stand in Little Stour and Adisham.

The first council meeting is tomorrow, 17 May.