"Even though we are poles apart politically, we both still want what's best for Wyre Forest.
"There are still many good things we can mutually do for the benefit of our local communities by working constructively together." Cllr Sarah Rook
Wyre Forest Labour District Councillors Sarah Rook and Leigh Whitehouse announce their resignation as of 17th July 2020 from Wyre Forest District Council ‘Progressive Alliance’.
Sarah and Leigh will continue to serve their constituents as Labour Councillors and support any progressive policies put forward by the ruling coalition. However, by resigning, they feel they are better able to represent their constituents and be true to their Labour values by doing this as ‘critical friends’ of the ‘Progressive Alliance’, and being constructive about that, rather than being bound by the collective responsibility of any alliance. Sarah and Leigh believe that the issue of collective responsibility of late has been hard to maintain given a number of issues that have arisen around policy and the opinions of Progressive Alliance colleagues.
Labour Councillors entered the Progressive Alliance in 2019 following the District Council elections on the basis of wishing to help transform the District with a more democratic approach and positive forward-looking policies on the environment and housing. Unfortunately, differences in these key policy areas have not been reconcilable and the council persists with a Cabinet structure rather than a more democratic committee system which is not helping communications or policy decision making.
Things came to a head at this Wednesday’s (15th July) council meeting when some Alliance colleagues and the Conservatives sought to frustrate the Labour motion on Black Lives Matter (BLM) in a proposal along the lines already passed by Kidderminster Town Council. The point about BLM is recognising the historical injustice that Black communities have faced, and Labour Councillors felt it was disappointing that too many Councillors used the opportunity to frustrate the motion and demonstrate their prejudice and ignorance on this important issue.
Labour Group Leader Sarah Rook said “it is with sadness and regret that we have reached the decision to leave the Progressive Alliance. We had high hopes initially that we could transform Wyre Forest for the better on environmental and housing policy as well as help create a more democratic council structure. Unfortunately, that has not been possible and things came to a head on Wednesday over the frustration tactics of too many fellow councillors on what is an important issue when Leigh presented his excellent ‘Black Lives Matter’ motion. Nevertheless, we had some initial policy successes and would still like a working relationship with the Alliance. Even though we are poles apart politically, we both still want what’s best for Wyre Forest. Both Leigh and myself wish the remaining Progressive Alliance members well in their pursuit of serving our District. I hope they now see us as critical friends rather than as their enemies. There are still many good things we can mutually do for the benefit of our local communities by working constructively together.”