And now they’re nine-strong
Exeter’s Green Party and Liberal Democrats are to continue their opposition partnership on the city council.
Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
The parties, together with an independent who is no longer a councillor, formed the ‘Progressive Group’ in 2019 in solidarity against the ruling Labour group.
Last year it overtook the Conservatives as the council’s main opposition and added a further two councillors – one each for the Greens and Lib Dems – at this month’s local elections.
The group is now nine strong, with six members from the Greens and three Liberal Democrats – after Andy Ketchin won the Green Party’s first ever seat in Newtown and St Leonard’s and Adrian Fullam took a seat for the Lib Dems in St Thomas.
Cllr Fullam returns as a councillor having previously served as city council leader between 2008-10, before Labour became Exeter’s dominant party.
The group has pledged to work “cooperatively together” and bring “balance and scrutiny” to Labour, which won and lost a seat earlier this month to remain on 25 councillors.
Co-leader, Green councillor Diana Moore, who was re-elected in St David’s, said: “The Progressive Group has demonstrated that a different type of politics is possible and that working cooperatively together is in the interests of local people and the environment.
“People repeatedly tell us they really like this cooperative approach.”
Fellow co-leader, Lib Dem councillor Michael Mitchell, who was re-elected in Duryard & St James, added: “We intend to ensure that the Labour-dominated council’s proposals and actions are subject to full public scrutiny.”
“Exeter is set to see some major changes and developments in the coming years. A strong opposition is going to be vital to challenge and suggest improvements to these plans. The Progressive Group will provide that challenge and, if needed, strong opposition.”
Mr Mitchell was previously co-leader of the group but is set to become the 2023-24 lord mayor of Exeter; a politically neutral, ceremonial role which is shared between the parties.
He said: “Four years ago I helped set up the Progressive Group on the city council. It was the first time individuals from different political parties and none had come together in Exeter in such a way. We developed a close bond, which is based on mutual respect.
“I am delighted to see that this group, which started as four councillors, is now nine-strong. I am hugely proud of every member in the group and of what we have achieved together. I know the group will go from strength to strength.”