Opposition group at Suffolk County Council confirmed
- Credit: Suffolk GLDI group
Suffolk's Green councillors will once again unite with Independents and Liberal Democrats in the Suffolk County Council chamber - but have now become the official opposition group to the Conservatives.
The Greens, Liberal Democrats, Independents and West Suffolk Independents have been grouped together at the county council for the last four years, but had not been the formal opposition group as Labour had been the largest single opposition party to the Conservative administration.
But after a strong 2021 local election in which the Greens tripled their number of councillors from three to nine, the group has now confirmed it will be re-uniting once again with the four Lib Dems as well as Independent Richard Kemp and West Suffolk Independent Victor Lukaniuk.
They take over the official opposition role from Labour, which saw its numbers reduced from 11 to five in last week's polls.
Experienced Green councillor Andrew Stringer will lead the group, having done so for a year from May 2018 while Robert Lindsay - currently leader of the opposition Green group at Babergh District Council - will serve as deputy leader of the group.
“It’s been a massively exciting week for the Greens in Suffolk, and we’re hugely grateful for the faith the public have put in us," Mr Stringer said.
"We are ready for an action-packed first year of leading the official opposition at the county council, and we’re thrilled that our Liberal Democrat and Independent colleagues have decided to join us.
"Diverse views are so important in politics, and having different people working together will only make us more effective in a progressive way.
“The Green Lib Dem & Independent Group is ready to hold the Conservative administration to account, and challenge them on doing the very best they can for the people of Suffolk.”
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A Green and Liberal Democrat alliance has become increasingly prominent in Suffolk over the last four years, with those parties uniting at Mid Suffolk District Council and East Suffolk Council on the opposition benches since 2019 too.
Mr Lindsay said: "Over the past four years the Greens have worked effectively with other parties to provide challenge and different views to the county council, and we have been instrumental in areas like the climate emergency, Suffolk’s speed limits, the implementation of the council’s new biodiversity strategy, and the debate on Sizewell C.
"We are ready now to continue that work in close partnership with our progressive colleagues, and we will fight to protect the best interests of Suffolk residents.”
The ruling Conservative group is set for formally confirm its leader and cabinet members ahead of the annual council meeting this month, with at least three frontbench changes set to be made as economic growth portfolio holder Nick Gowrley was not successfully re-elected and finance and education cabinet members Gordon Jones and Mary Evans opted not to stand.