Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 19:01 UK

Councillors refuse cabinet seats

Labour councillors have established a minority administration on Cumbria County Council after the Conservative leader lost a vote of no confidence.

After Tim Stoddard stepped down on Wednesday he was replaced by Labour's Stewart Young as leader.

With no party holding over all control and no two parties agreeing to form a partnership, the constitution states that cabinet seats should be shared.

But the Tories, and then the Lib Dems, declined to put forward any nominees.

The "rainbow cabinet" would have reflected the constitution of the council and consisted of five Labour members, four Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat.

However, only Labour has taken up any seats.

Mr Stoddard said the Conservatives had refused to take part because there was no precedent for a rainbow cabinet.

"There is not another council in the whole of the country that operates that system, and the reason for that is that it does not work," he said.

'Torn up'

Councillor Joan Stocker, leader of the Liberal Democrats, also chose not to take part in the administration, which she said was a consequence of the Tories' refusal to become involved a rainbow cabinet.

She said: "My group wants to form a three-party administration which will allow Cumbria County Council to be properly administered."

Labour leader Mr Young, now also leader of the council, described the decision as disappointing.

He said: "We have spent the last fortnight in detailed discussions with the two other groups about how we could make this work given the situation we have found ourselves in.

"We get here today (Wednesday) and it's all been torn up."

With five cabinet seats remaining vacant, the council will be run with a minority Labour administration until the next local and general elections.

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