By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
A vote yesterday confirmed that the current ruling group will continue as a minority administration, despite losing overall control of the authority at the May 5 elections.
Barbara Janke was re-elected leader at an uncharacteristically good-natured council meeting.
The three opposition parties did not oppose Mrs Janke’s re-election after more than a week of negotiations brought a series of concessions.
As previously reported, it means there will be a decision on whether Ashton Vale should become a town green or not within a month.
It also means the Lib Dems have had to climb down from their position on the much-criticised parks sell-off plan.
The Parks and Green Spaces Strategy will be stopped in its tracks pending a cross-party review.
The final decisions on individual sites for sale are now expected to be taken by residents at neighbourhood partnerships, which is what campaigners wanted all along.
A new group is to be set up to look at major transport issues like tram proposals, the bus rapid transit schemes and the Temple Meads transport interchange.
It is not yet clear what – if any – powers this group will have.
There will also be a number of changes to the makeup of council’s scrutiny committees, with more representation for the Greens, and opposition parties taking all but one of the chairmen’s roles.
But there were also areas the Lib Dems did not concede on, specifically relating to the £28 million cuts plan for the current year.
The council is still planning to reduce the amount it spends on Police Community Support Officers, and the 30 per cent increase in Meals on Wheels charges will not be reversed.
Another area that will continue to be debated is the future funding of the £72,000-a-year place making director role.
The new make-up of the council is 33 Lib Dems, 21 Labour, 14 Conservative and two Greens.
It means that the Lib Dems will no longer be able to force policies through by sheer weight of numbers, and will have to rely on opposition support far more, until the next elections in 2013.
In accepting the role of council leader, Mrs Janke promised to listen to suggestions from opposition parties and work together.
She said: “We are putting our city first, we will work together and we will do the best that we can. The big challenge on the agenda will be the budget and it will certainly be a priority for us to start work on that as early as possible.
“It is a great honour and privilege to again be leader of Bristol City Council.
“We have a huge responsibility ahead of us – challenges, but also opportunities.
“I know we can give the clear leadership the city wants.”
This new spirit of co-operation will no doubt be tested by the process of coming up with a budget for next year.
On top of the £28 million of cuts it has made for the current financial year, the council will now have to make a further £7 million for 2012/13.