TORY and Labour councillors have been accused of striking a ‘dirty deal’ by Liberal Democrats who refused to support an all-party executive.
At the annual Pendle Council meeting on Thursday, Conservative and Labour members voted in favour of forming an all party executive, with the Tories taking four seats in the cabinet and Labour and the Lib Dems three each.
The leaders of both parties agreed it was the best chance of creating a ‘balanced’ executive, which would be best for Pendle.
But the Lib Dems said they had no intention of accepting the offer because they did not want to be a part of any decision-making body which afforded power to Labour, particularly leader Mohammed Iqbal, where housing matters were concerned.
Tory Mike Blomeley was made council leader after earlier proposals to appoint him and Lib Dem John David in the position had failed and led to adjournments and discussions between party leaders. Tory and Labour councillors then voted through a proposal, which will see councillors Blomeley, James Starkie, Linda Crossley and Tonia Barton sit on the executive along with Coun Iqbal, Naeem Ashraf and Ajad Mahmood.
Most notably, a Labour councillor will be given responsibility for housing regeneration – a move which angered the Lib Dems.
Rejecting an offer of three places in the cabinet, Lib Dem Coun David Whipp said the deal went against what was pledged prior to the meeting.
He said: “Us and the Conservatives were in union that Coun Iqbal should not be given the housing portfolio because he is on record as saying the cash should all be spent in Bradley. It is quite clear that what is being proposed is a Labour Conservative coalition.
“We are not prepared to participate in this so-called shared executive. The offer on the table looks like a Labour- Conservative coalition. I won’t be a member of the executive because my conscience won’t permit me to be any part of the dirty deal on the table.”
While Coun Blomeley described the Lib Dems’ position as ‘regrettable’ he said the decision had been taken to form a balanced executive. And Coun Iqbal denied there had been a coalition.
The three places offered to the Lib Dems will remain open for the next two meetings of the executive.