Click here to see the original story on the EP website
By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
THE future of Bristol City Council’s green spaces sell-off plan continues to hang in the balance amidst renewed calls to scrap it.
All three opposition parties on the authority have now issued statements following the May 5 election saying it is time for the Liberal Democrats to think again.
This follows the Lib Dems losing five seats, reducing their majority from 38 of 70 councillors to 33.
As previously reported in the Evening Post, the green space sell-off plan may be sacrificed to keep the Lib Dems in power.
None of the opposition groups have expressed an interest in forming a coalition with the Lib Dems.
But now they have a no outright majority, the Lib Dems would lose any future vote on the issue that has become entrenched along party lines.
Council leader Barbara Janke said discussions were ongoing on the future of the running of the authority so was unable to comment further at this stage.
Mrs Janke said: “Last week’s elections have left no party in overall control, although the Lib Dems – on 33 seats out of 70 – are still much the largest party.
“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.”
How much of an effect the green spaces controversy had on the local elections is not clear. While the Lib Dems lost some seats where sites were under threat – including Brislington East and Hengrove – they also retained others including Knowle and Windmill.
But Labour’s Ron Stone said the loss of seats made it clear the public wanted the Lib Dems to review the policy. He said: “It’s obvious the electorate have not been impressed with the cuts agenda and added to that many thousands who protested felt they were ignored over the sell-off of their green spaces. We have warned the Lib Dems the whole policy needs a re-think and while they can ignore their political opposition if they want to, they can’t ignore voters.
“We say let local people decide on the future of their green spaces at their Neighbourhood Partnerships.”
Councillor Tess Green, of Southville ward, the council had a “golden opportunity” to look again at the funding for parks improvements.
She said: “What the LibDems wanted to do was unpopular, unsustainable, and regressive – and wouldn’t even raise the cash needed. A new administration must not make the same mistake. We could not support any new administration that continued with the disposal of green spaces.”
Conservative acting leader Councillor Peter Abraham said: “The Lib Dems must face up to the fact one of the reasons for doing so badly in the local elections was the massive opposition to their proposed sale of Bristol’s green spaces.
“If they now wish to continue to govern in this city without an overall majority, it is obvious that they will have to make some concessions on this issue.”
Click here for more stories on the green spaces sell off plan