By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
The Conservatives say one of their “conditions” of supporting the Lib Dems as a minority administration is a decisive debate on the issue by the end of the month.
Tory deputy leader Peter Abraham says the matter should be dealt with in a vote by full council one way or another, within 14 days of the next full council meeting on Tuesday.
The Lib Dems have been reaching out to the other parties on the council since they lost five seats at the local elections on Thursday.
The losses mean the party no longer has the numbers to force through policies and must rely on the support of other groups.
No party has expressed an interest in forming a government-style coalition but it is believed the Lib Dems could continue with a minority provided they make concessions on certain issues.
Mr Abraham – who is expected to replace mayor-elect Geoff Gollop as Tory leader on Friday – believes the ongoing uncertainty on the future of the site has done Bristol no favours.
He said: “We’ve mucked about and it’s dragging on. We ought to take the decision now. A report should be brought for decision whether to accept or reject the independent inspector’s advice.
“We’ve wasted months and months, with arbitration and talks breaking down.
“Sainsbury’s is ready, the deal is there waiting but we as a council are not shown to be facing up to these issues.
“My personal view is that I am convinced we should reject the inspector’s advice.
“I don’t think this qualifies as a town green and it brings the process into disrepute.”
He said: “Labour policy is to support a stadium in south Bristol. The Lib Dems need to demonstrate leadership and council needs to make an early decision with a clear cabinet recommendation to approve the stadium or not.”
Council leader Barbara Janke stressed no decisions could yet be made while talks are ongoing.
She said: “As you would expect, we are talking to the other parties and listening to what they have to say about the issues that are important to them. Until this process is completed, we are not, of course, able to say what the outcome will be.”
The row over whether Ashton Vale should become a town green has stalled for months. On one side Bristol City Football Club needs the site to build its £92 million new stadium.
On the other side, residents near the site say they want to protect the site from any kind of development.
Mr Abraham said if the council had to make changes to take the decision out of that committee’s hands, it should do so.
Whatever decision the council does take, it is likely to face a legal challenge by the losing side.