Who will control Bath and North East Somerset Council on Friday? Twitter pollsters @OurBath have looked at past results and have made a “final and very confident” prediction no one party will have overall control of the council.
For any party to have a majority it will need the “magic number” of at least 30 candidates.
The authority is currently made up of 35 Conservatives, 17 Liberal Democrats, six Labour Party members, five independents and one Green, plus one councillor with no party.
If no one party achieves overall control in Thursday’s election, two or more may need to join forces.
The two biggest parties, the Tories and the Lib Dems, have been tight-lipped about whether they would go into coalition with another party, but alluded to negotiations.
The Greens have been more explicit and said they will not be bound by deals.
Dominic Tristram, one of the party’s candidates, told a filmed debate at the Bath Studio School on Monday: “We would work with anyone we agree with. We’re not tribal.
“If somebody proposed a motion and we agreed, we’d vote for it, and if we didn’t agree, we wouldn’t vote for it, just as we have for the last five years.
“I don’t think it helps anyone to say we would never work with these people or we would always work with those people – it leads to all sorts of really bizarre situations like you see nationally with the DUP [which has done a deal with the Conservative government].
“We can agree on all sorts where necessary, and equally we will never agree on other things. We would work with everyone where it’s in the common interest.”
At odds with the @OurBath prediction, Mr Tristram said he fully expects the Lib Dems to gain overall control of B&NES Council, with a “sizeable” majority.
Labour’s Dr Sharon Gillings said she did not agree with that assessment, adding: “Canvassing in Kingsmead doesn’t support Dom’s assertion that it will be clear Lib Dem majority.
“I think we have keep to putting all our effort into winning those seats that we need. There will be some interesting conversations on Friday.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Richard Samuel refused to hypothesise on the makeup of the council.
He said: “The answer will be decided by the electorate on Thursday. There are a number of scenarios I can envisage.
“The magic number for any party wishing to have an overall majority will be over 30.
“Parties that fall short of that magic number will have to see if they can get their leader elected as the leader of the council. Once that’s happened the leader can appoint a cabinet.
“Control of the cabinet is the way you get to do things. If there is no overall control there will be negotiation to see if the smaller parties will support the larger parties in forming that administration.
“Other than telling you how it will work, I don’t really want to hypothesise.”
Cllr Mark Shelford, a cabinet member under the current Conservative administration, took a similar stance.
He added: “I think it’s important that the cabinet is made up of a mix of North East Somerset and of Bath councillors, a mix of sexes and, if we have any minorities, some minority representation in there as well.
“It depends on the outcome of the election. It shouldn’t just be people like me.”
Jess Milton said the Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group would work with everyone it can, adding: “We would like to see more engagement with the community from the ground up and not just decision making from the council chambers.”
The debate can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rirbKxtPx_c&feature=youtu.be
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter