Walking my dog during lockdown, I have been struck by the readiness of people, who you often pass but don’t really acknowledge, to actually have a conversation. All united in the common human need to interact and realise we all feel the same isolation.

Now we are planning for normality, we need to think and act differently and ensure that Allerdale Borough Council delivers the support everyone needs.

In the May 2019 local elections we lost control of the council, suffering our worst results in years. Independent and Conservative councillors formed a coalition promising “change”. So far, change hasn’t come, unless you count the failure to deliver key projects such as the Community Stadium, Lidl at New Bridge Road or the Ashfield Road housing scheme.

Arguments between independent and Conservative councillors have been reported in this paper and make the former independent leader’s appeal for councillors to “stop bickering about party politics” ring hollow. It is no surprise that the coalition has now collapsed with the Conservatives taking minority control.

We now face a difficult time. Following Covid-19 the council is facing a potential financial deficit of several million pounds. To protect our frontline services, over the coming months, Allerdale needs political stability, not bickering and indecision.

This is why Labour will set aside party differences, but only where the best interests of our communities need us to work together. We will allow the Conservative group to run the council to provide stability. We will support the leader through a “confidence and supply” agreement, without forming a coalition or taking places on the Executive. From this position we will continue to challenge and oppose the administration when required. The alternatives would be chaos.

In return the Labour group will expect and ensure that we have open, transparent, and inclusive local government. We face unprecedented times – we need to ensure that the people of Allerdale have a council that makes mature decisions, has a clear vision and delivers the crisis management demanded.

It was so inspiring, last Thursday, to be present when the streets of Cockermouth were lined with people paying their last respects to former councillor Joan Ellis, and councillors across political divides have all been united in paying their heartfelt tributes. Joan’s legacy is a demonstration that working together, with compassion, delivers results. When I campaigned with Joan, countless people thanked her for her help after the floods and what she’d done for Cockermouth.

Everyone can make a difference.