I speculated here in the week running up the District Council elections about the cosy relationship that appeared to have developed between the independent Cllrs Peter and Helen Dyke and the local Liberal party (NOT the Lib Dems, I should add).
It seems as though my conjecture, based almost entirely on a newspaper advert, was not far from the mark. The Kidderminster Shuttle reports that the two independent councillors representing Aggborough and Spennells will form an ‘alliance’ with the five-strong Liberal group on Wyre Forest District Council. This seven councillor ‘independent-Liberal alliance’ grouping would overtake the Labour party as the largest opposition group on the council. Peter and Helen Dyke resigned from the Liberal Democrats in March and have sat on Wyre Forest District Council as independents ever since.
The decision by the Dykes to join the Liberal party in an alliance has sparked some controversy, especially from voters who helped re-elect Peter Dyke only last Thursday. Angry posts on the Kidderminster Shuttle’s website said that the Dykes had “pulled the wool over the electorate’s eyes in Aggborough and Spennells.” Posts described the alliance as an “utter disgrace”, “cynical, cynical, cynical” and said that the actions of Peter and Helen Dyke were “despicable”. Another post claimed the electorate had been “cheated” by the alliance that would knock the Labour party from their position as the largest opposition group; saying that the “electors of Wyre Forest…voted for the LABOUR group to be the REAL opposition to the Tories.”
Other comments expressed incredulity that the deal between the Liberal and independent councillors had been put together so quickly after the election result. “Surely it was obvious from their collective ad this was going to happen” was one opinion posted on the Kidderminster Shuttle website.
The Liberal-Independent Alliance statement hits back at the criticism saying that the pact is a “working relationship to improve our service to the people we represent.” Cllr Peter Dyke commented that he was “free to walk away from any type of alliance at any time.”
The arrangement between the Liberal and independents is similar to the situation on Worcestershire County Council, where Cllr Fran Orborski sits with the Liberal Democrats. Cllr Orborski, however, is NOT a Lib Dem.