Liberal Democrats hold the power after St Albans council leadership vote

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 May 2019

Councillor Chris White.

Councillor Chris White.

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The Liberal Democrats now hold power in the St Albans district following this month's local elections.

Chris White is the Lib Dem candidate for Hertfordshire Police and Crime CommissionerChris White is the Lib Dem candidate for Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Group leader of the St Albans Liberal Democrats, Councillor Chris White, was voted leader of St Albans City & District Council (SADC) at a full council meeting on May 22.

This follows the local election on May 2, in which no party gained full control of the authority but the Lib Dems bagged the most number of seats.

Cllr White was up against newly-appointed St Albans Conservative group leader Cllr Mary Maynard in the SADC leadership bid.

However, 27 councillors voted for Cllr White and 22 for Cllr Maynard, with eight Labour and Independent candidate abstentions.

Cllr Mary Maynard.Cllr Mary Maynard.

It was swung in Cllr White's favour by the lone Green representative Cllr Simon Grover and Redbourn independent Cllr Tony Swendell.

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Cllr Grover said: "Faced with a choice between a Lib Dem leader and a Tory one, I chose to vote for the former, because I think that is more likely to further Green efforts in the fight against the climate crisis."

Once he had been chosen, Cllr White announced the new portfolio holders - Cllr Jamie Day for planning; Cllr Robert Donald for property, commercial and development; Cllr Mandy McNeil for business, culture and tourism; Cllr Anthony Rowlands for community, leisure and sport; Cllr Jacqui Taylor for housing, inclusion and protection; and Cllr Karen Young for resources.

Green district councillor Simon Grover, who is organising the inaugural meeting of the Environment Action Group.Green district councillor Simon Grover, who is organising the inaugural meeting of the Environment Action Group.

Cllr White appointed himself climate and environment portfolio holder and Cllr Rowlands as his deputy leader.

"We regard [climate and the environment] as the most significant pressure now on this district and I look forward to bringing to the council a declaration of climate emergency at the earliest possibility," Cllr White said.

A petition created by Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth, which urges SADC to make this stand, has garnered more than 400 signatures.

After the meeting, Cllr White said: "There is lots to do - we don't have a long honeymoon so we are rolling up our sleeves already."

Cllr Maynard said she is disappointed councillors "are still wedded to old-style confrontational politics".

She called the Lib Dems "inexperienced", adding: "The Conservative role will be to protect our district from assaults on our democratic processes, monitor progress to ensure the Liberal Democrats do not lose control of the Local Plan or of currently well-run services and scrutinise projects to monitor progress on timescales, delivery and budget."

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