The Conservative group on Salisbury City Council has withdrawn from the four-way leadership.

Cllr Charles McGrath, group leader and councillor for Milford, said the decision follows a recent meeting, planning the strategy for the administration, whose outcome was "disappointing" and did not reflect the Conservatives’ priorities for the city.

Explaining the party's decision to withdraw, Cllr McGrath said: “We entered into the four-way administration with the intention to bring more powers back to Salisbury, including greater control over footways repairs which was an issue raised to us repeatedly on the doorstep.

"Sadly the other three leaders did not agree that this was a priority for Salisbury, adopting a tone that fell short of my expectations as a fellow member of the coalition."

Cllr McGrath, who has been leader of the Conservative group since the beginning of August, said he was initially "hopeful" that the four parties could work together successfully.

However, he believes that the nature of the four-way leadership was "entirely unaccountable", with no opposition party to put pressure on the administration.

"Without a constructive opposition party to scrutinise the policies of the administration, there is a real danger of poor policy decisions being allowed to pass by unimpeded," he said.

The leaders of all four parties on the city council came together to lead the administration after no party won a majority in May's local elections.

Cllr McGrath has now promised a fully costed "opposition budget" encompassing the group’s five priorities:

  • Give Salisbury City Council more powers over footway repairs, provisionally agreed by Wiltshire Council
  • Sustainable transport for Salisbury, including an SCC-led EV charge point strategy and exploring the option of pedestrianisation where it is most effective
  • Action on the environment, including a formal review of SCC’s Environmental Action Plan
  • Restore Salisbury as a cultural and independent business hub, promoting live events and festivals across the city
  • Make Salisbury young people friendly by offering new leisure facilities, from a revamped skate park in Churchill Garden to a water park for children

Cllr Annie Riddle (Ind), Cllr Victoria Charleston (Lib Dem) and Cllr Ian Tomes (Lab) have been contacted for comment.

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