Fringe Box



Woking Council’s Rival Parties Passing Prospect of Power Like Hot Potato

Published on: 13 May, 2021
Updated on: 15 May, 2021

Woking Borough Council

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

After weeks of electioneering, no party now wants control of Woking Borough Council as a financially troublesome year looms. The Conservatives have 13 of the 30 seats and the Lib Dems 12. Both parties are passing the prospect of power like a hot potato.

The three Labour councillors are open to a coalition with the Lib Dems, but they show little sign of support.

Cllr Ayesha Azad

The new borough council meets for the first time on May 24 and unless a new nomination is put forward, Conservative leader Ayesha Azad will remain council leader by default, and that she does not relish.

“We are the largest party but only by one,” she said. “I’m keen not to be seen as wanting to stay on when the other parties have more.

“They should step up and deliver on their promises to the residents. It is the right thing.”

Cllr Tahir Aziz

Woking Labour group leader Tahir Aziz said a coalition with the Lib Dems would be “kind of a natural alliance”. Failing that, he expected there would be “questions from the residents, saying ‘You’ve got enough support so you should be taking over. Why are they still running the borough?’

“We want the system to be running smoothly. It makes life difficult for the citizens as well, when there is no overall control.”

Cllr Azad said: “It seems silly for me to hang on to power when the Lib Dems can quite easily now form another administration with another party.”

But Lib Dem group leader Ann-Marie Barker said: “No one likes coalitions.

Cllr Ane-Marie Barker

“Victoria Arch will be starting this year and we’ve got fairly good reserves but at the end of the year it might be difficult with budget decisions to make.

“If they’re looking to relinquish power they’ll be leaving us to sort out all the things they’ve created and we’re not keen to do that.”

Cllr Aziz added: “Financially, it will be a difficult time. Delivery of services will be difficult, there will be less revenue from parking and a huge gap in the commercial side as well.”

The Liberal Democrats are biding their time until next year when a further third of the council will be up for election.

Cllr Will Foster at the Woking count

Cllr Will Forster, who won 60 per cent of the vote in Hoe Valley, said: “We have momentum and if these results are repeated at next year’s election, the Lib Dems will become the largest party and take control then.”

Cllr Barker added: “We know it’s difficult but we’re asking people to bear with us for another 12 months when we hope we can move forward.”

Last year, Conservatives had an extra seat but because their Cllr Beryl Hunwicks was then mayor and as such gave up her right to vote, they are now left with the same amount of influence.

This year the mayoral chains pass to Lib Dem Liam Lyons, so although his party have just won two extra seats, their position has not hugely changed.

Both main parties fielded candidates in every ward, and the Conservatives picked up the most borough votes, 40.4 per cent compared with 36.1 per cent for the Lib Dems.

Cllr Azad said the Conservatives would be willing to form a coalition with the Lib Dems. “We can work in the interests of the borough,” she said.

The Lib Dems said they would remain working in the committees within a minority administration, “moving towards carbon neutral and looking for a full financial review including all the council companies”.

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Responses to Woking Council’s Rival Parties Passing Prospect of Power Like Hot Potato

  1. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    May 14, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Strange that the Lib Dems say no one likes coalitions but their party, historically, did, both nationally and here in Guildford with the Greens for the recent elections and the power share with R4GV at GBC.

    All parties at Woking should consider what is best for the residents and Woking and all get together to address the serious issues they face.

    Ramsey Nagaty is the leader of GGG and borough councillor for Shalford

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