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Doncaster mayor's U-turn over rival party

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The mayor of Doncaster is in talks with the council's Labour group after he appeared to defect and form a rival party.

Martin Winter (Lab) registered a breakaway party called The Labour Group, with two other councillors at Doncaster MBC’s annual general meeting on Friday (16 May 2008).

The move pre-empted the official Labour group’s registration at the council’s annual general meeting.

A spokesman for Mr Winter said his move had been prompted by mounting frustration following a series of damning Audit Commission reports which said political infighting at the Labour-run authority had hit services.

Breakaway disbanded

But the mayor’s breakaway independent party has now been disbanded and Mr Winter is expected to re-register with the council’s Labour group within the official 14-day deadline to avoid expulsion from the party.

A cabinet source at the council said Mr Winter also wanted to force the Labour group to back his plans for a cross-party cabinet.

He said: "“They will all be in the same group but I would not say for a minute that it will all be OK. He is hoping to have a couple of other people in there from the other parties, but the Labour group has always rejected this in the past.”

The official Labour group was taken by surprise when Mr Winter announced his intention to create a cabinet of three members with former Labour councillors Stuart Exelby and Eva Hughes. Ms Hughes has since rejoined the Labour group.

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