Former York council leader makes comeback

Former council leader Andrew Waller has returned to the authority
Former council leader Andrew Waller has returned to the authority
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FORMER York council leader Andrew Waller today described the election victory which has returned him to the authority as a call for change from voters.

Coun Waller convincingly won the by-election for the vacant Westfield seat for the Liberal Democrats, securing 1,804 votes ahead of Labour’s Louise Corson on 588.

It means a return to York Council for the man who lost his seat at the 2011 elections while leader of the authority.

He said: “I think we have reached the point that there are a large number of people in the city who think that things have to change, that the council is not functioning properly and it has lost the sense of priorities the council should have.”

Following two councillors becoming independents and a third joining the Conservatives, the ruling Labour group was already running the council as a minority authority before the by-election.

Both the Lib Dems and Conservatives want to see changes to Labour’s proposals for the city’s local plan which would see land available for 20,000 homes over the next 15 years.

Coun Waller’s victory gives the Lib Dems nine seats while the Conservatives have 10 meaning they will need to secure the support of Greens, independents or Labour councillors to push through changes.

The York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce warned yesterday that any delays to the local plan could harm York’s economy.

Conservative group leader Chris Steward said: ‘The Westfield result is another huge blow to Labour to go from winning the seat in 2011 to getting less than a third of the winner’s vote now.

“We now need proper cross party working on issues like the local plan and focusing on issues like potholes rather than vanity projects’.

A special meeting is due to be held on Thursday to decide the political balance of council committeess in the wake of the shift in make-up of the authority in recent weeks.