May 10, 2023 1.00 pm This story is over 10 months old

Power Play: Who will lead South Kesteven after no overall control election result?

Options for forming an administration

Uncertainty continues over the future of South Kesteven as political parties jostle for leadership of the district.

There was a shift in the balance of power following Thursday’s election.

Voters effectively beheaded the Conservative hydra, removing both the leader and deputy leader, and taking away 16 seats for the party.

A surge in Independents, along with some further successes for the Green Party and Liberal Democrats, has left the district with no overall control.

No party has reached the 29-seat threshold to take control.

Smaller parties such as Labour, the Greens, and Lib Dems are now in a position of power as those on either side of the chamber look to achieve the required number of seats for at least a coalition government.

With both the independents and the Conservatives set to elect new leaders going forward, the district is poised for change – but it remains to be seen who will be in charge.

It is the first time South Kesteven has been in a no overall control situation since 2003, having gone through nearly four leaders since the party was put in power.

The seat has been in a no overall control situation three times since its first election in 1973 and under Conservative control twice.

Here are the possible options for who could run the district.

Who will take power in South Kesteven’s council chamber? | Photo: Daniel Jaines

Conservative or Independent Minorities

One option could be for the Conservative or Independent parties to take the lead on their own and rely on other parties in key votes.

However, where the Conservatives are generally united as a party, the issue here is for Independents who may not be aligned in their views on how to move forward.

It is understood that some relations between Independent members are more fragile than others.

Prior to the election, there were a number of smaller groups, including the AllianceSK, the Democratic Independents, a further Indy group and several unaligned Indies.

This could make governing in a minority an issue if there was a desire for a change of power.

A Coalition of Opposition

The word on the grapevine suggests a coalition is the most desired way forward.

If the Independents want to definitively end Conservative rule, they would need most Greens, Labour and Lib Dems to agree to support them. This would give them a total of 32 seats, three more than is needed.

It is understood that a meeting between SKDC’s opposition members saw almost unanimous support for this option.

However, the big question is what can the group offer to the other parties in exchange for their support. Will they get extra seats on committees? A position in the inner circle? Support on or against their manifesto pledges?

And here’s where things could get difficult because now it’s an auction, and the bartering could lead to some interesting discussions.

A Conservative Coalition

If not everyone’s happy with the deal on the table, some Independents, Lib Dems or (in a totally topsy-turvy world) even Labour members could sign up to a partnership with the Tories.

The party only needs five more seats on their side to take the majority control. This could be made up of the four Lib Dems or Greens and an Independent, or even five Independents.

Again, it would depend on what the Conservatives offered the councillors. Perhaps a more unified approach and a potential party whip in support of their pledges could be.

What happens next for South Kesteven district?

Both parties need to elect new leaders and act quickly to garner support. It is understood both will be holding votes in the next day or two, and the results should be known by Friday.

The deadline is the Annual General Meeting of the Full Council on Thursday, May 18 at 1 pm.


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