The Lib Dems failed to take control of the council despite being the largest party

No change to Stockport leadership after crunch vote 

Dan Whelan

Labour’s Cllr Elise Wilson has clung on to her role as leader of the council after a Liberal Democrat motion to remove her was voted down, in what the party’s leader called “a grubby stitch-up”. 

In total, 33 councillors voted against the motion while 28 voted in favour. Among those who refused to back the Lib Dems were all eight of Stockport’s Conservative councillors. 

The vote was “a testament to strong leadership”, Wilson told Place North West. 

“I am delighted. It shows that we have been able to reach out and work with others and build consensus in a council that is under no overall control. It is about putting Stockport first and getting things right for people of Stockport.” 

However, Lib Dem leader Cllr Mark Hunter told Place that Labour and the Conservatives had worked together to prevent his party, which has the most seats within the council, from taking control. 

“It was a grubby deal stitched up by two parties whose only common interest is trying to block the Lib Dems. 

“Labour has run Stockport with the tacit support of the Tories. We are the only threat to Labour in terms of running the council.” 

Elise Wilson

Wilson has led the council since 2019

With 26 seats, the Lib Dems overtook Labour as the largest party in Stockport following the elections earlier this month, after Labout incumbent Yvonne Guariento lost her seat in Reddish South to Green Party candidate Gary Lawson.

No party has overall control in Stockport and Labour, which now occupies 25 of the council’s 63 seats, has led as a minority administration since 2016. 

In the weeks that followed the elections, cross-party discussions over a potential leadership change had hit a brick wall. 

As a result, Hunter tabled a motion to remove Wilson as the leader, citing a historical precedent whereby the party with the most seats has always led the council. 

Addressing the meeting before the vote, Conservative leader Cllr Mike Hurleston said: “The Lib Dems would be more interested in spin and political stunts than in working cross-party for the residents of Stockport.” 

Before last night’s meeting, the Lib Dems had accused Labour and the Conservatives of trying to block the press and the public viewing the meeting, a claim both parties deny. 

The meeting was ultimately live streamed but Hunter said, “if it hadn’t been for our action, they would have had the meeting behind closed door so nobody would have seen the grubby deal”. 

The next leadership contest will be held next year and the next whole council elections are to take place in 2023. 

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Good to see Labour retaining control of Stockport albeit with the aid of the Tories. Maybe now we can get some real progress on resolving Stockport’s housing crisis as the 5,000 new homes dumped back on the borough as the result of the fall out from leaving GMSF cannot be wholly resolved on brownfield land, as it would require 350-400 acres to be achieve this or lots of tower blocks which is hardly the solution especially for families; with the best will in the world that amount of deliverable brownfield sites does not exist within the borough. Ditto employment land, where the Bredbury Industrial Park extension desperately needs to come forward if Stockport is to have a place at the regional top table, as opposed to being parked in a cul-de-sac.

By Grumpy Old Git

Disappointing to see Labour getting a helping hand from Tories just to maintain the illusion that Lib Dems are not a real party.

Have to disagree with GOG’s comment. 350 acres might be needed to deliver 5,000 boring, suburban 2-car households but the Victorians achieved densities of over 50 family houses per acre with more sense of community than anything delivered by today’s large housebuilders.

Maybe a bit of greenfield is inevitable but I really hope some clever design minds get involved in the challenge of unlocking more brownfield and refurb nearer to the train station. Set an example to the rest of the country – endlessly expanding car-centric suburbia will never be sustainable.

By W

Let’s hope that the leader of Stockport MBC now sorts out the planning department which is slow and completely inadequate if this doesn’t happen developers will stay away from the Borough.

By Monty

Memo to Grumpy Old Git:
25 out of 63 seats (less than 40%) does NOT mean ‘control’ of Stockport Council.

Labour is a minority administration, and can do nothing without the support of either the Lib Dem’s or Tories; similarly, the Lib Dem’s and Tories can together vote down Labour at any point, as they did with the GMSF.

By Anonymous

High density housing is not good. The areas with the worst deprivation also happen to be where the homes are too small, there aren’t enough private gardens and people don’t have access to a car.

By Cal

Cal – yeah, the West End of London, central Paris and Manhattan are all deprived because of the high density housing and lack of car parking spaces.

Meanwhile, Coventry, 1960s Birmingham and Milton Keynes are all thriving metropolises.

Density isn’t the enemy. Overcrowding is, but they’re not the same thing.

By Anonymous