THE CONSERVATIVE Party has taken control of Worcester City Council after a night of high drama at the Guildhall.
Former Labour leader, Coun Adrian Gregson, was ousted from the role following a vote of no confidence and the position taken by Tory leader, Coun Simon Geraghty.
Last night’s (Tuesday) Annual Council Meeting also saw new independent councillor, Coun Alan Amos, become the city’s mayor, with Conservative Coun Roger Knight named as deputy.
A new Conservative led cabinet was also chosen as Coun Marc Bayliss, who is the new deputy leader of the council, was named cabinet member for economic prosperity.
Coun Chris Mitchell was chosen as cabinet member for delivering value for money, while Coun Lucy Hodgson is responsible for customer services and communications.
Coun Andy Roberts is the new cabinet member for a cleaner and greener city and Coun David Wilkinson is cabinet member for safer and stronger communities.
The switch in power was ultimately decided by Coun Amos who stepped down from the Labour Party on Sunday (June 1).
All of the Conservative councillors, 17 in total, supported the vote of no confidence in the Labour leadership, along with Coun Amos meaning the vote was passed.
Coun Geraghty, who previously led the council between 2006 and 2013, said: “May I thank the council for putting their trust and faith back in me to lead this council for at least this coming year.”
His comments came after a fierce debate between the two groups, with Coun Gregson saying a Conservative-led administration would return Worcester to the ‘dark ages’.
Coun Lynn Denham said: “After 13 years of Conservative rule, we inherited a tired administration, a demoralised workforce and a financial mess.
“Less than one year later we have a positive vision for a great city with a great future.
“We should not allow the dark clouds of austerity and selfishness to roll over the city again.”
Coun Richard Udall also gave a passionate plea as he claimed the Tories would privatise all council services, including bin collections, street cleaning and the city’s parks and cemeteries.
But Coun Bayliss said the Conservative group were in a strong position to provide a stable administration and he has promised to reduce car parking charges in the city centre.
“My concern is not with Coun Gregson, but it is with the direction this administration has been travelling over the last year,” he said. “In too many areas this council has been on the wrong track.
“They have failed to listen to the people of Worcester. The most obvious example was over parking charges where, despite a huge outcry from businesses and residents, they forced through an unpopular increase.
“It needs to be reverted and under a Conservative administration it will be.”