Sunderland Conservatives 'prepared to form coalition to kick out Labour'
Opposition leaders have fired a starting pistol on this year’s local election campaign, claiming they would be prepared to form a coalition to oust Sunderland’s ruling Labour Party.
Wearside’s Conservative group have laid down an early marker with the challenge, as well as a manifesto promising policies such as a ‘rat action plan’, cuts to councillor payments and calls for a directly-elected mayor.
However, they also conceded they were yet to confirm any agreement which might put them in a position to cut such a deal, come polling day.
Group leader Antony Mullen said: “There is a very real chance we will be the largest party in a coalition running the council after May.
“It remains to be seen if the other opposition parties in the city would side with us or Labour should we enter ‘no overall control.
“Our manifesto therefore offers a vision of how we would aim to get the basics right, with cleaner streets, safer roads and decision-making in the hands of the people.”
Sunderland City Council is made up of 75 councillors, meaning at least 38 are needed to form a governing majority.
Labour currently has 48 sitting councillors, meaning it would be mathematically possible to oust the ruling party if it loses in at least 11 of the 28 seats up for grabs on Thursday, May 6.
In the highly unlikely situation the Conservatives managed to win all 28, combined with their current tally of 12 councillors, they would be just over the threshold of 38 needed for a majority in the council chamber.
Other parties currently represented in Sunderland are the Liberal Democrats, with eight councillors, and UKIP, which has three.
The Green Party’s sole councillor recently resigned his seat.
The Conservative, currently designated Wearside’s majority opposition party, are due to launch their election manifesto this weekend, with flagship policies including:
:: A new city centre leisure centre
:: Cracking down on dog fouling, illegal parking and fly-tipping
:: A ‘Rat Action Plan’, featuring free means-tested pest control for selected properties
:: The abolition of councillor expenses and cuts to allowances
:: Replacing the current leader and cabinet governance model with a directly-elected mayor
:: Establishing a Washington Town Council