THE Conservatives will not return to the joint leadership of Salisbury City Council, as “opposition is integral”.

The group added that Conservative councillors were "forced to resign" from committee positions as a result of their initial withdrawal.

During the full city council meeting last week, Councillor Annie Riddle (Ind) invited the Conservatives to return to the administration leading the authority, formed of herself, Cllr Victoria Charleston (Lib Dem) and Cllr Ian Tomes (Lab), adding “our door is always open”.

The four political parties had united to lead the administration after no party won a majority in May’s local elections.

The Conservatives withdrew from this coalition in September.

Cllr Charles McGrath, Salisbury's Conservative group leader, said the recent invitation suggested the leadership “is lacking new ideas and indeed the ability to take leadership over the direction of the council, evidenced in their budget last week".

Despite majority approval the budget was rejected by Conservative members on the council, branding it as “poor” and “non-progressive”.

Salisbury Journal: Salisbury City Councillors Annie Riddle and Charles McGrathSalisbury City Councillors Annie Riddle and Charles McGrath

Cllr McGrath said: “The Conservative group remains of the opinion that an opposition is integral to the successful functioning of democracy, both nationally and locally, and so we kindly refuse this offer.

“Cllr Riddle was quick to bemoan ‘party politics’ at last week’s full council meeting and in comments on social media. We too believe that party politics for the sake of it has no place on a parish council.

“We’re disappointed, then, that members of the leadership group have time and again demonstrated an overtly partisan approach, from forcing Conservative councillors to resign from their committee positions in October to failing to reach out to us as the opposition for our input during the budget setting process, despite this being something the previous Conservative administration did every year between 2017 and 2021."

On behalf of the leadership, Cllr Riddle said: “Last week we made a genuine offer to the Conservatives to rejoin our administration and to work together in a spirit of co-operation as volunteer councillors serving our city. We didn’t want them to leave in the first place.

"It wasn’t our decision, but once they took it there was no way they could expect to continue chairing decision-making committees.

"Their leader Cllr McGrath chose to go on Facebook to announce his rejection of this offer, which remains open.”

Get more Salisbury news

You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date, as well as signing up for one of our newsletters.

If you want online news with fewer ads, unlimited access and reader rewards - plus a chance to support our local journalism - find out more about registering or a digital subscription.

Email with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.