Lib/Dems walk out at County Hall
Both the Labour administration at Copeland Borough Council and the joint administration at Cumbria County Council have had problems with their accounts.
I and my Conservative colleagues at Copeland are continuing to press for the necessary action to sort out the situation on that council: meanwhile a similar concern on the part of our Conservative colleagues at the county council has resulted in the end of the alliance with the Lib/Dems, who have resigned from the county cabinet.
The county's accounts had a problem last year, and my colleagues made clear that this would need to be sorted out. This year, a larger discrepancy was found.
Tim Stoddard, Leader of the Council, took the view that this is unacceptable and that the clearest possible lead must be given from the top about the need to rectify the problem, which is most effectively done if there is a change in Portfolio holder.
Unfortunately the previous portfolio holder for finance and budgets, Joan Stocker, who is also Lib/Dem leader at county hall, was not prepared to agree to shift to an alternative set of responsibilities. It did not prove possible to reach agreement on this between the Conservative and Lib/Dem groups, and the Lib/Dems have now resigned from the county cabinet.
Whether it is the European Union, Cumbria County Council, or Copeland council, a problem with the accounts is a serious matter: if it affects one year it's bad, if it affects two or more years it is unacceptable. I regret that this has become a party political matter and appears likely to bring to an end an administration which had made significant progress in addressing some of the problems which Cumbria faces, but I cannot disagree with Tim Stoddard: the problem could not be ignored.