Whitehill & Bordon Community Party leader Cllr Andy Tree has been sharing his thoughts on who to form a coalition with to run East Hampshire District Council.
To have control, a coalition needs to hold 22 of the 43 seats. Option one for Cllr Tree is to team up his party’s six councillors with the 19 Conservatives, making a coalition of 25. Option two is his six with the 14 Liberal Democrats and two Greens, a total of 22, with the possible support of the one Labour councillor.
Cllr Tree said: “We hold the balance of power – a fantastic position to be in to negotiate benefits for our community, but a challenge to decide who to work with.
“Before the election, we said ‘we will push for an East Hampshire District Council with Whitehill, Bordon, Lindford and Greatham at the heart of its policy’.
“I have been speaking to the leaders of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats over the bank holiday weekend to see what they would offer Whitehill, Bordon, Lindford and Greatham as a negotiated price for them running the council moving forward.
“I am also in contact with East Hampshire District Council senior officers to discuss how any such policies could be implemented.”
Cllr Tree believed choosing which way to jump was not an easy decision. He said: “Neither side automatically deserves our support. The Conservatives are blamed for issues and a lack of action to date, and the Alton-centric Liberal Democrats have at times not effectively stood up for us either, for example not questioning health hub proposals at formal scrutiny meetings.
“Both agreed the same budget a few months ago and so were on the same page with each other. Therefore this is a challenge, with pros and cons for both options. We as a group take this negotiation very seriously and realise the huge trust placed in me and our group by fellow residents.”
Cllr Tree took to social media to discuss the dilemma – and his post had a swift and massive response.
Many urged him not to form an alliance with the Tories. “Had I known that voting for you would have been a vote for the Tories, I’d have voted elsewhere,” said one.
Another wrote: “I supported you and not the Conservatives for a reason.” But Cllr Tree replied: “What if the Tories come back with the best deal? Would you still have me reject it?”
The new East Hampshire District Council meets for the first time at Penns Place in Petersfield on Thursday at 6.30pm.