I have just left a meeting of the Labour Group of Councillors where we discussed what happens next after the Tory and UKIP power grab. I wanted to let you know the situation regarding the control of Plymouth City Council.
At the elections last week people in Plymouth put their faith in Labour. We won the majority of seats and polled more than the Tories. But this week I'm sorry to say that the Tories and UKIP have done a grubby backroom deal to seize power.
The Tories and UKIP together have more councillors than Labour does and so it with much regret that I must tell you that it looks like they will take control of the Council on Friday at the Council's AGM. It hurts as they will seek to undo much of the good work done by Labour since 2012 and they will vote through ideological cuts that will hurt our city.
I am incredibly proud to have led the Labour-run Plymouth City Council since 2012. We have transformed the lives of thousands in our city. We have built new homes and created new jobs. We have opened up the Council by introducing webcasting of council meetings, created Plymouth Energy Community and illuminated our city landmarks. We have addressed and resolved long-running sores on our city. We have taken action to resurface hundreds of roads and repair pavements. We have launched plans for a cruise liner terminal, a new train station at North Hill and took action to demolish the derelict Quality Inn on the Hoe. We have worked with communities across the city, repairing communities, creating jobs and apprenticeships, cutting unemployment and giving hope and a future to thousands of people in Plymouth.
I want to thank all the councillors past and present who served our city so well. I want to pay tribute to the volunteers and organisers who have done so much campaigning to deliver victory after victory. It is a small consolation that the electorate of Plymouth did not vote us out, rather we have been ousted by a grubby deal from a Tory party desperate for power and UKIP. Blukip as this coalition will be known will hurt our city and put the hard-won progress we have made together at risk.
I want to assure you that Labour is not done. We will regroup, refocus and win the city back. We have a record to be proud of and members and supporters that represent the very best of our city.
After such a shock it seems odd to be turning our attention to another election, but we must. The EU Referendum must be won and we will do our bit to deliver that victory. On Friday night the campaign launches in Plymouth with a special campaign meeting at 7pm at Plymouth Labour HQ. I know you'll fight just as hard for Britain staying in the EU as you did to win Labour councillors two weeks ago. We have a formidable team. So formidable that the Tories had to find a way other than the ballot box to force Labour from office. The deal with UKIP dooms both parties and we will spend the next two years holding them to account.
On behalf of the Labour cabinet, the Labour Group and the Labour Party in Plymouth can I thank you for your support, your effort and your dedication. Plymouth is a city on the up with Labour and we will fight each and every day to prevent the Tories and UKIP reversing the progress we have delivered.
I could not be more proud of our council and our party. The Blukip coalition did not deserve to win but we hand over a council in a better state than we were left in 2012 and for that I am enormously proud.
p.s. Please put Thursday 3 May 2018 in your diary. That's the day Labour will win back Plymouth with your help. That's only 715 days away. Let's get busy, there's a lot of work to be done.