The Liberal Democrat and Green groups have announced plans to form the “Alliance for Wealden”, a cross-party co-operative group to run Wealden District Council for the next four years.
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr James Partridge (Crowborough North) will become the Council’s new Leader, with Green group leader Cllr Rachel Millward becoming Deputy Leader. The leadership post is expected to rotate between the two group leaders each year.
At the elections on 4th May, the Liberal Democrats won 13 seats, making them the largest party on the Council, while the Green Party won 11 seats. Discussions have been taking place since, which the two leaders have described as “amicable, brisk and business-like”, and which have led to an agreement to form a Cabinet, consisting of four members of the Liberal Democrats and three members of the Green Party, as follows:
|Position||Party & Ward|
|Leader||James Partridge (Lib Dem) Crowborough North|
|Housing & Benefits and Deputy Leader||Rachel Millward (Green) Hartfield|
|Planning & Environment||Ian Tysh (Green) Maresfield|
|Climate Change, Economy & Wellbeing||Paul Coleshill (Lib Dem) Herstmonceux & Pevensey Levels|
|Finance & Human Resources||Greg Collins (Green) Horam & Punnetts Town|
|Waste & Customer Services||Gareth Owen-Williams (Lib Dem) Crowborough Jarvis Brook|
|Public Health & Asset Management||Kelvin Williams (Lib Dem) Uckfield East|
Details of each of the the Portfolio Holder’s responsibilities can be found in the following report to Full Council: Report of the Leader of the Council.
Wealden District Council is run using the Leader and Cabinet model of local government. All Councillors meet together as the Full Council. Here Councillors decide the Council’s policy framework and set the budget each year. There is an Overview and Scrutiny Committee composed of councillors who are not in the Cabinet. It has statutory powers to scrutinize decisions made by the executive. For full details of the how decisions are made see Wealden District Council’s latest Constitution approved in February 2023.
Other key roles on the Council, including Chairs and Vice Chairs of committees, will also be ratified at a meeting of Full Council next Wednesday (24th). The number of seats on each committee is determined by the share of councillors elected to each political party.
Martyn Everitt (Green) Crowborough St Johns, will become Chair of Planning Committee North. Jane Clark (Lib Dem), Crowborough Central, will Chair the Standards Committee. Andrew Wilson (Lib Dem) Crowborough South East will Chair the Finance, Audit and Governance Committee.
This marks an historic change for Wealden, with the Wealden Conservatives having been reduced from a comfortable majority of 28 seats to just nine. The Conservative Party has lost control of Wealden District Council for the first time in 25 years. Labour won its first seats on the Council since it was set-up half a century ago. There were also a total of 10 independents elected.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader and new Leader of the Council James Partridge said:
We are absolutely on the same page about all the important local issues, and thus were able to quickly reach an agreement to form a combined team that will ensure competent and effective governance over the next four years. Our focus is to bring about the changes for which the majority of the Wealden electorate voted. I am really looking forward to leading that team for the next year.Cllr Partridge
Rachel Millward, Green Party Group Leader, added:
Residents made it clear at the ballot box that they are desperate for change. We are delighted to bring in a new era of collaborative local politics to better serve our residents, and better protect nature. Change takes time, and we won’t be able to achieve everything we’d like to due to central government restrictions. But we will be working hard, together, to improve Wealden for all.Cllr Millward
Published on 17th May, updated on 18th to include photos and description of executive arrangement/constitution