We have been getting information from our sources at Civic Centre saying that there are some councillors on the move.
We have been getting reports that Councillor Joy Garner has resigned from her position in the cabinet with immediate effect and rejoined the Labour Party.
We have also been told that there are rumours that Councillor Joan Bell is set to rejoin the party ahead of the Friday deadline set by the Labour Group for members to rejoin or face expulsion.
We can now confirm that both Cllr Joy Garner has resigned from the cabinet & along with Cllr Joan Bell has rejoined the Labour Group.
Both had until Friday as per the instructions from the Labour Party national executive.
Mike Barnes, Labour Group Leader said: “The Labour Group is pleased that Joan has agreed with the NEC request”
Speaking in today’s Sentinel, Joy Garner said: “I have decided to re-register as a member of the Labour group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as instructed by my party.
“It was a difficult decision for me to leave the Labour group, and it has been equally hard to decide to rejoin. However, I believe that, in the long term, it is far better to be a member of a group rather than a single individual who can achieve little.”
Council Leader Ross Irving said: “It’s regrettable that Joy has made this decision, but I feel she was put in a difficult position by her party.
“I understand Joy’s long relationship with the Labour group and her decision to rejoin the party, but I am sad to lose her from the cabinet. Joy was very good at the job she did.”
He added that he would hold talks in the next few days to decide whether to replace Mrs Garner or transfer her duties to another cabinet member.
He said: “There may be an opportunity to do some re-jigging of that portfolio so that we can run with one less member.”
Conservative & Independent Alliance
We have been told that at tonight’s meeting of the Conservative & Independent Alliance group, the 4 independent councillors are going to leave the group and stand on their own. This will have a significant impact on Ross Irving as both leader of the group and the Council.
The threat of a split has been temporarily removed.
Discussions are thought to be on going and a final decision expected within days.
We will keep you informed.