Image of the Progressive Group outside the Guildhall in Exeter. Back row, from left to right: Cllr Andy Ketchin (G, Newtown & St Leonard’s), Cllr Michael Mitchell (LD, Duryard & St James), Cllr Kevin Mitchell (LD, Duryard & St James), Cllr Adrian Fullam (LD, St Thomas). Front row from left to right: Cllr Catherine Rees (G, Heavitree), Cllr Tess Read (G, St David’s), Cllr Carol Bennett (G, Heavitree), Cllr Amy Sparling (G, St David’s), Cllr Diana Moore (G, St David’s)
The Green Party and Liberal Democrats have agreed to continue with a cooperative agreement which will see them as an expanded ‘Progressive Group’ opposition on Exeter City Council. Both Parties each gained a seat in the local elections. Andy Ketchin won the Green’s first ever seat in Newtown and St Leonard’s ward, and Adrian Fullam took a seat for the Liberal Democrats in St Thomas. The Progressive Group is now nine-strong, made up of six Green and three Liberal Democrat councillors. The group has pledged to work cooperatively together and bring balance and scrutiny to the Labour-led council.
Diana Moore, Green Party, and Michael Mitchell, Liberal Democrat, have been appointed co-leaders of the group.
Green councillor Diana Moore, who was re-elected in St David’s ward with a 55% vote share, said:
“The Progressive Group has demonstrated that a different type of politics is possible and that working cooperatively together is in the interests of local people and the environment. People repeatedly tell us they really like this cooperative approach.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Michael Mitchell, who was re-elected in Duryard & St James ward, said:
“We intend to ensure that the Labour-dominated Council proposals and actions are subject to full public scrutiny. Exeter is set to see some major changes and developments in the coming years. A strong opposition is going to be vital to challenge and suggest improvements to these plans. The Progressive Group will provide that challenge and if needed strong opposition.”
Green councillor Andy Ketchin, who made a breakthrough in Newtown and St Leonard’s, a ward traditionally thought to be a Labour stronghold, said:
“People have become increasingly disillusioned with Labour’s failed policies on housing, protection of green spaces and waste and recycling, to name but a few. As the Progressive Group we will work tirelessly for a fairer, greener community for everyone."
Liberal Democrat councillor, Adrian Fullam, is not new to Exeter politics. He was City Council leader from 2008-2010 and has been elected to St Thomas after a 8-year gap from the political arena. He said:
"Residents in St Thomas have been clear about their aspirations for a clean, well-maintained and safe local environment. The Progressive Group is a model for positive collaborative working that I hope will be adopted by all parties so that residents' views are taken into account before decisions are made and services shaped to reflect their priorities."
Cllr Kevin Mitchell, who is set to become the new Lord Mayor of Exeter, added:
“Four years ago I helped set up the Progressive Group on the City Council. It was the first time individuals from different political parties and none had come together in Exeter in such a way. We developed a close bond, which is based on mutual respect. I am delighted to see that this group, which started as four councillors, is now nine-strong. I am hugely proud of every member in the group and of what we have achieved together. I know the group will go from strength to strength.”