LABOUR and Conservative leaders in Crawley have come to an agreement over the running of the borough council between now and the 2021 elections.

Peter Lamb and Duncan Crow met when the council moved into no overall control after Labour councillors Karen Sudan and Rory Fiveash quit the Party to become Independents.

Their decision left the council with 17 Conservative councillors, 16 Labour and two independents, with one seat vacant following the death of Geraint Thomas in November.

A joint-group agreement said the council would keep a Labour administration but Mr Crow and his shadow cabinet would have greater rights and powers, and the next town mayor would be from the Conservatives.

In a joint statement, Mr Lamb and Mr Crow said: “Crawley is facing greater challenges than it has ever known before in the life of the New Town.

“We are in the midst of a pandemic, with thousands of local jobs at risk, and a multi-million pound budget gap in the council’s finances has opened up in the fight against Covid-19.

“Against this backdrop, the council has moved into No Overall Control, leaving no party able to govern by itself.

“This risks paralysis at the very time the community needs it most.

“In these unprecedented times, we as elected representatives owe it to those we serve to put party politics to one side and focus on getting the town through this crisis.

“This agreement ensures the council has the stability it needs to address the problems our community is facing, leaving it to the voters to decide who controls the council at the local elections next May.”

The agreement was worked out by representatives of each group and agreed by members.

Under the agreement:

Crawley Borough Council will retain a Labour administration with the leader and cabinet remaining Labour members.

The leader of the opposition and shadow cabinet members will be entitled to the same level of briefing from senior officers as the leader and members of the cabinet.

A detailed list of items due to come before the council will be made available to the shadow cabinet.

The Conservative Group will be providing confidence and supply to the administration and will be invited to send representatives (the leader of the opposition, supported by members of his shadow cabinet) to agree reports set to come before the council, including the budget.

The leader of the opposition will second the budget at full council.

There will be ‘joint accountability for joint decision making’, it will be recognised that neither group is individually responsible for a collective decision.

Prior notification will no longer be required for the leader of the opposition to speak on an item at cabinet, with the same right extended to shadow cabinet members on reports

under their portfolio.

In addition to the leader and cabinet posts, Labour Group nominees will receive the following roles: deputy mayor, chair of licensing, vice-chair of the overview and scrutiny commission, vice-chair of planning, vice-chair of governance, and vice-chair of audit.

Conservative Group nominees will receive the following roles: mayor, chair of the overview and scrutiny commission, chair of planning, chair of governance, chair of audit, and vice-chair of licensing.

Cllr Bob Lanzer will become chair of the neighbourhood parades scrutiny panel.

Agreement in principle that later in the year, work would occur (possibly via a constitutional change/ Notice of Motion) over the requirement for a more proportionate system for chairs/vice chair arrangements going forward.

In the event of a hung-council at the 2021 local elections, the casting vote of the mayor or deputy mayor will not be used to determine the next mayor and political control until new talks have been held between the groups.

Groups will avoid moving single-party motions at full council meetings.