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Fenland District Council's first Green Party Councillor has joined forces with the Independents Group and the Lib Dems to work for the 'greater good' of the area




Fenland's first and currently only Green councillor has announced he will be forming a working alliance with the district council's group of independents.

Fenland's first Green Party councillor Simon Wilkes has agreed to work with the Fenland Independents.
Fenland's first Green Party councillor Simon Wilkes has agreed to work with the Fenland Independents.

Councillor Simon Wilkes, served up a massive shock in the May elections when he ousted long-term Conservative councillor Kit Owen from the the March West Ward. However, Simon, who is visually impaired, failed to duplicate that success on March Town Council.

Speaking on Friday Simon, who said he was one of the Green Party's non-targeted candidates, which stood to allow voters a great choice at the polls, said his victory had come as a surprise but he was now finding his feet in the local political arena.

However, he confessed it was proving harder than expected and had found it frustrating not to be able to play a bigger role in the council's decision making process because of his lone Green status.

Consequently he has made the decision to join forces with the Fenland Independents Group, which was formed at the last election and saw victory for them in 10 seats across the district.

Michelle Tanfield, is spokesman for the Fenland Independents Alliance.
Michelle Tanfield, is spokesman for the Fenland Independents Alliance.

Simon said forming an alliance with the group did not mean he was saying goodbye to the Green Party, but would continue to vote according to his own political beliefs.

However, he said the group will give him support as a newcomer to local politics as well as allowing an opportunity for him to gain a committee seat on corporate governance.

Simon said a meeting of the independents, himself and the Lib Dems was planned this week when they would discuss policies and agree their mutual goals for Fenland.

In a statement Councillor Michelle Tanfield, spokesman for the Fenland Independents, said: "Simon Wilkes has joined the Fenland Independent Alliance. We are all very pleased that Simon has decided to join us.

"The Alliance is not a political party. Each person represents either the political party they stood for in election or as an independent. This is confirmed as we were not allocated any seats with the combined authority. The Alliance has no whip and each person follows their own beliefs and opinions when voting.

"We are allocated a far greater proportion of committee seats as a group of individuals. We are then able to make sure that the ruling main party are robustly scrutinised, and we think most people would agree this is a very healthy and productive way for a council to run."

Sarah Bligh with fellow ward councillor and Lib Dem colleague Gavin Booth.
Sarah Bligh with fellow ward councillor and Lib Dem colleague Gavin Booth.

Sarah Bligh, one of Fenland's two Lib Dem councillors - the other is Gavin Booth - said they have also agreed to work with the Alliance, but like Simon and Michelle emphasised it was not a political move, but a decision that made sense for the "greater good".

She reiterated the point her and Gavin would remain Lib Dems and work towards their election pledges, but added working with the Alliance allowed a bigger representation on Fenland's committees and despite the different political backgrounds of the group there was a lot of common ground to work from.

"It is a very positive thing, we will be working for the greater good, and it will allow us to better scrutinise the ruling party, and I'm sure we can achieve more as an alliance than as individuals," she said.



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