Tories and Lib Dems to form pact

Peter Goldsworthy

Peter Goldsworthy

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Chorley’s Conservative Party is set to share power with the Liberal Democrats in a bid to regain control of the town hall.

The Tories were bruised in the local elections, with Labour winning nine of the 15 seats up for grabs on the night.

The result left the council in turmoil as no single party had a large enough majority to take overall control.

Now, in a move that mirrors the national picture, the Conservative and Liberal Democrats are to come together to run Chorley Council.

Conservative Leader Coun Peter Goldsworthy will keep his top position, while retiring Mayor and Lib Dem leader Coun Ken Ball will become the new deputy leader.

An official decision is expected to be made at a full council meeting tomorrow.

Coun Goldsworthy said: “We’re hoping to get the Liberal Democrats’ support, and want to form an informal coalition, like a loose agreement.

“The Liberal Democrats have worked in a coalition in the past, with the Labour group, so they can help us to understand how we can work together.

“They also have similar views to us, and can bring a lot to the table.”

Labour holds 20 seats on the council, after winning four previously held by the Tories and one from the Lib Dems. The Conservaties have 23, the Lib Dems two, and there are two independents

Coun Goldsworthy, who represents Euxton South, added: “The fact is that the people of Chorley voted for the Conservatives to be the biggest single party at the council, and we intend to form this agreement to keep Labour out.”

Coun Ball and fellow Liberal Democrat Stella Walsh, who both represent Coppull, have defended their decision to support the Conservatives.

Coun Ball said: “The electorate decided on a hung council, and we’re trying to make the best out of that.

“At the moment, I just don’t think Labour are capable of the running it.”

As part of the arrangement, Coun Walsh will also get a cabinet position and become the chair of licensing.

He said: “I see this as being a partnership between myself and Peter Goldsworthy, and we will work with each other directly on everything concerning the council.

“The Liberal Democrats want to be involved in all of the decisions made at Chorley Council, or else it will all go out of the window.”

However, opposition leader Alistair Bradley said that the Labour group had yet to be officially told of the plans.

He said:“It’s apparent that Labour got a large number of votes, and that the electorate voted against the current administration. The people of Chorley didn’t vote for a coalition, and it seems that the Conservatives and Lib Dems have stitched up a deal which doesn’t balance out.”