A HIGH profile city councillor has dramatically quit the Labour party, a decision which looks certain to hand control of the Guildhall back to the Conservatives.
Coun Alan Amos stepped down on Sunday (June 1) night to become an independent councillor following a dispute over the leadership of the city’s Labour group.
His decision came just two days before Labour would attempt to agree a deal with the Liberal Democrats and Green Party, which would have seen the city council remain a Labour-led administration.
But Coun Amos’ shock resignation appears to put the key decisions back in the hands of the Conservatives, which currently holds 17 of the 35 seats in the Guildhall, whereas Labour now has just 15.
In a letter sent to Roger Jenkins, secretary of Worcester Constituency Labour Party, Coun Amos refused to list all the reasons behind his decision.
But the Observer understands internal tensions had prompted the move, with council leader, Adrian Gregson, failing to offer the Warndon councillor a position on his cabinet.
Coun Amos said: “I have truly enjoyed working with you (the Labour group) over the past years and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your consideration and kindnesses. I am sure we would both agree how unfortunate it is that this decision has been forced upon me.”
However, the move has stunned the Labour group, with Coun Joy Squires, the party’s parliamentary candidate for the city, claiming he had chosen a time, which would have inflicted as much damage as possible on her group.
“Clearly it is disappointing that Alan has chosen this course of action,” Coun Squires said.
“Labour was making great strides and particularly helping areas like Warndon. But all of that will be put at risk with the Tories getting back in control.”
Coun Gregson also spoke of his disappointment as he said his group’s efforts to join up with Coun Liz Smith, of the Lib Dems, and Neil Laurenson, of the Greens, were “all irrelevant.”
He added it also threw the council budget, plans for the future growth of the city, including its bid to be the city of culture in 2021, into jeopardy.
But Coun Simon Geraghty, leader of the Conservative group, said the result of last week’s elections suggested voters no longer believed the Labour party were capable of running the council.
“Given this latest development I think it is time for Labour to stand aside and allow us the largest group to form the administration,” he said.
“We believe we will offer the best opportunity to provide the stable leadership, which the city needs to take it forward.”
A decision on the leadership of the council is set to be rubber stamped at tonight’s (Tuesday) Annual Council Meeting.
To find out full details of what happened log onto our website at www.worcesterobserver.co.uk tomorrow.