Labour u-turn angers new mayor George Ferguson
BRISTOL'S mayor George Ferguson is still battling to form his first cabinet more than ten days after he was elected.
The independent had asked Labour councillors to take up three seats in the cabinet.
And Bristol's Labour leader Councillor Peter Hammond had said his members would join.
But last night he phoned Mr Ferguson, right, and said Labour councillors would not now be helping him run the city.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Mr Ferguson said he was disappointed by the news.
And he accused Labour of failing to recognise the "new mood" in the city.
He is now planning to leave three seats in the cabinet vacant for a week in case Labour councillors want to defy their party chiefs and join.
Mr Ferguson had wanted to form a rainbow cabinet, drawing on councillors from each of the three main political parties.
But following Labour's U-turn he will have to rethink his plans.
Labour leader Mr Hammond called Mr Ferguson yesterday following an announcement by the Labour Party's South West regional office confirming the party's councillors would not be involved in the cabinet.
Earlier he had approached Labour's Councillor Helen Holland to act as his deputy.
She declined citing personal reasons.
As well as Ms Holland the new Mayor had wanted Councillor Mark Bradshaw to serve as transport executive and one other Labour councillor to join the cabinet.
Mr Ferguson said he was disappointed with Labour's decision.
It came as he was "in ongoing discussions with Labour councillors about them forming part of his cabinet".
He said: "It's disappointing and I will let the people of Bristol judge whether it was the right thing to do or not.
"It is a failure to recognise the new mood and it's a failure to respond positively to the clear election result.
"I have been having positive discussions and expected a response to what is a new form of politics for Bristol.
"I expected to deal with this at a local level and not nationally. It should be resolved within Bristol and I will still be asking the Bristol Labour councillors to respond to that mood."
On Twitter last night, Mr Ferguson said he would leave three places empty on his cabinet for a week for Labour councillors prepared to 'defy Labour Party diktat'.
Mr Ferguson said he understood why Ms Holland, who represents Whitchurch Park ward, had turned down his invitation to become deputy mayor.
He said: "She was appreciative that I had asked her. She has very good family reasons why she couldn't do it. She's a leading figure on the council and has the experience of representing the city outside the council, which is what I need from a deputy.
"But I'm clear in my mind of a couple of alternatives."
The discussion between Mr Ferguson and Ms Holland largely took place in public, during a series of tweets online through the weekend – the first Ms Holland had heard of the job offer was when the new mayor mentioned his intentions during a local radio interview.
Mr Ferguson said he was hoping to form the first cabinet in the country to include members from all leading political parties by early this week.
He said the new cabinet members would serve until the election in May, when a cabinet would be formed for a three-year term.
A South West Labour Party spokesman said the decision had been taken after "further careful consideration" and listening to a wide range of views across Bristol, and the wider Labour Party.
He said: "We will support the mayor when we agree with his decisions, and we want to be free to offer constructive alternatives when we believe a better solution is available.
"We will continue as a Labour Party to work with the local communities we represent, and to do our best for the people of Bristol."
Labour MP for Bristol South Dawn Primarolo backed the call and said cross-party working could still be effective without Labour holding cabinet positions.
She said: "I believe this decision is entirely correct. Disappointing as it was, Labour did not win the election on November 15.
"The people of Bristol will expect the mayor to be able to get on with his job and be accountable for his decisions. Cross-party working with the mayor, as important as that will be, is not dependent on holding cabinet places.
"As we said in our campaign our first priority has to be to encourage those who don't feel they have a voice to become more actively involved in their local communities, to make themselves heard, and to shape and influence the decisions which affect their everyday lives."
On her decision to turn down the chance to become deputy mayor, Ms Holland said: "I had to do some serious consideration as quickly as possible to give George as long as possible to work his team out.
"Largely it's down to personal circumstances that I wouldn't have been able to accept it. My commitment to Bristol will carry on and I still have my ward responsibilities."