New leader at Cambridgeshire County Council
Liberal Democrat councillor Lucy Nethsingha has been formally appointed as the leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
A new joint administration made up of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and four independents was formally agreed at the county council’s annual general meeting on Tuesday (May 18), following the elections earlier this month.
The leader of the Conservative opposition group, councillor Steve Council, called the joint administration an “unholy alliance”, but committed his group to working collaboratively for the residents of Cambridgeshire.
The joint administration’s first acts were to restructure the number of council committees from seven to five, which also cut councillor allowances by £72,000 a year.
Leader of the Labour group on the council, Elisa Meschini, was formally appointed deputy leader, as per the agreement signed between the three groups on Friday.
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Cllr Nethsingha said: “This new joint administration is an opportunity for a change in direction in both policies and culture on Cambridgeshire County Council The past four years of Conservative dominance have seen heavy cuts to our council services, a deterioration in quality of service for many of our residents, combined with allegations of bullying and sleaze, and it is time for a change.
“The new administration comes in with a spirit of openness and transparency and cross-party cooperation.”
She said the joint administration agreement is “tribute to the common recognition” across the three groups of changes that are “urgently needed” at the council.
Cllr Nethsingha said that the joint administration will “renew” investment in young people as they have “missed out on so much over the past year”. She also said it will work closely with small businesses, improve adult education, reduce health inequality and “accelerate” towards net zero carbon.
Cllr Count said: “We are here to work with you, we are very cooperative”.
But he immediately followed the remark by describing the joint administration as an “unholy pact” and an “unholy trinity”.
He said: “The announcements you have made, many of them I’m very very comfortable with, and over the coming weeks and months we will demonstrate to the public that what you have actually promised is purely to deliver everything set in train by this Conservative administration.
“Some of the things that you are promising though have come with a price tag, and we will be interested to see how you manage that gap between the funding you have available and the services you already need to deliver that has a funding gap, plus the extra expenditure that you have recently announced”.
He added that his group will approach the joint administration with a spirit of “collaboration”, but said “we won’t just roll over and have our bellies tickled. If we don’t like something, we will let you know”.
He offered Cllr Nethsingha congratulations on becoming leader, but added “I must also warn you that along with the privilege comes a heavy burden”.
He said his opposition group would not provide opposition for opposition’s sake, but will let the administration know when they feel it is “going wrong”.