Banbury councillor speaks out for coalition proposal between Conservatives and Labour Party for Oxfordshire County Council

Newly nominated leader of Oxfordshire’s Conservative group, Banbury Cllr Eddie Reeves, speaks out for a coalition proposal between Conservatives and the Labour Party as a ruling group for Oxfordshire County Council.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:37 am
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:38 am
A coalition between Labour and the Conservatives has been proposed as the most secure way forward for Oxfordshire County Council, after elections left the authority without a single ruling group.

A coalition between Labour and the Conservatives has been proposed as the most secure way forward for Oxfordshire County Council, after elections left the authority without a single ruling group.

When the May 6 election results were counted the Conservatives were found to have lost nine seats compared with the last election, leaving them with 22 seats.

The Liberal Democrats and Greens have said they plan to form a single political group, giving them 24 seats, and are in talks with Labour for coalition,

But the newly nominated leader of Oxfordshire’s Conservative group, Eddie Reeves, has said he is also open to forming a coalition with the Labour Party independent councillor Les Sibley, and Stefan Gawrysiak of the Henley Residents Group, a coalition which would have a total of 39 seats.

Mr Reeves, the councillor for Banbury Calthorpe, said: “If you look at two things: council tax and the approach to housing and growth, there is actually far more, if we are honest, in common between Labour and the Conservatives than between Lib Dems and Conservatives.”

Mr Reeves said Labour and the Tories had both supported a three percent rise in council tax in the February budget for example, while the Lib Dems had called for a five percent rise, though they did not make a formal proposal for this.

The Lib Dems have promised in recent election manifestos to review housing growth figures which underpin the growth deal, a Government funding deal for new roads around areas where homes are being built in Oxfordshire.

Mr Reeves added he believes both he and Liz Brighouse, who leads the Labour group, were moderates in their parties, and the proposed coalition would offer stability and continuity.

He said: “Apart from anything else, I am genuinely not in politics or local government to make a name for myself.

“I am not even desperate to be leader of the council. I don’t even what to be an MP.

“I am just… trying to do the best by my community.

“If that means we have to go into coalition with the Labour group to serve the community then I am relaxed about that.”

It is understood a formal offer of coalition with the Tories has been extended to the Labour group.

The deal would be a 50-50 power sharing arrangement between the two parties, with Eddie Reeves as leader and Liz Brighouse as deputy.

Liz Brighouse, who leads the Labour group, said: “At the moment we have to try to get an administration up and running for Oxfordshire and we have to consider everything.

“We want to get the best for Oxfordshire, and that is how it is.”