By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
THE future control of Bristol City Council is to be decided today, after nearly two weeks of political negotiations.
Barbara Janke is expected to continue as leader of the authority with the Liberal Democrats running a minority administration.
A rethink on trams, a review of the green-spaces sell off plan and a decisive debate on whether Ashton Vale should be a town green are believed to be among the main concessions that will allow them to remain in power.
Councillors will elect their leader at the annual meeting this afternoon, which should end the limbo the council has been in since the Lib Dems lost overall control at the local elections two weeks ago.
As previously reported, none of the three opposition parties have expressed an interest in forming a government-style coalition with the Lib Dems.
Instead, all-party talks have been taking place to thrash out exactly what should happen next.
A final list of concessions had not been released as of last night.
But the Evening Post understands a cross party review of the proposed sale of more than 40 green spaces is expected to be among them.
A full council debate on the future of Ashton Vale within a month is also likely, with councillors given a free vote.
The Conservatives had wanted this to take place within 14 days of today’s meeting but legally that would have been difficult to arrange in time.
The Post also understands that a working group could be set up to look at major transport issues for the city – including the future of Plot 6 at Bristol Temple Meads and whether trams should come to Bristol.
There may also be changes to scrutiny committees – the groups that look in detail at different aspects of the council’s duties.
Negotiations have continued until the eleventh hour though, and a number of issues are still to be resolved.
Labour are looking to scrap the proposed 30 per cent hike in Meals on Wheels and cuts to the budget for Police Community Support Officers.
Both of these were part of the council’s £28 million cuts plan for the current financial year.
It is also believed that the future of the £72,000-a-year place making director role has also been discussed, after previously being described as a “waste of money”.
But as that post is a fixed two-year contract that has already been appointed it may be difficult for the Lib Dems to make concessions in this area.
The party has refused to be drawn on the negotiations since they began last week and would not confirm or deny the list.
Yesterday, Mrs Janke said: “Discussions are still taking place and it would not be right to pre-empt their outcome with a comment at this stage.”
The next city council elections are not due to take place until 2013, and Labour has said it wants to re-take control of the authority then.
As well as choosing who will run the authority, the council are also due to decide who will become Lord Mayor for the coming year.
This is a far more straight forward affair, with former Tory group leader Geoff Gollop due to take over from Labour’s Colin Smith in the role.