A CHALLENGE for the leadership of East Lindsey District Council has been made in the hope of instilling ‘new direction and purpose’ in its actions.
Conservative Councillor Neil Cooper contested the leadership of the incumbent leader Coun Doreen Stephenson at the party’s recent Annual General Meeting.
Though supportive of Coun Stephenson’s work since she was elected to the role in 2007, Coun Cooper felt there was an opportunity for change to enhance the district council and the Conservative Party as its leading political group.
He said: “Nationally I feel the Conservative Party has lost some of its direction and so locally I thought the time had come to inspire some new direction and purpose in the party and the district council.”
Conservative Party members voted in favour of Coun Stephenson, although the victory is believed to have been a marginal one.
Coun Cooper has congratulated his leader on her victory and wishes her well in her ongoing role.
Had he been successful in his election bid, however, Coun Cooper said he would have sought to take on new responsibilities from Lincolnshire County Council to enable a more localised viewpoint to lead the way in the district’s governance.
He believes the resources available to ELDC would equip it better to take on these responsibilities, in the light of the government’s localism agenda, than small parish councils would be able to do.
He has also stressed his belief that councillors, as elected representatives of the community, must maintain their control over the council rather than allowing their agenda to be undermined by council officers.
Coun Stephenson said that she ‘welcomed the challenge’ posed by the election contest, was ‘delighted’ to be returned as leader and has reaffirmed her dedication to working for the people of East Lindsey.
She said: “There is still a lot of work to do and my focus remains firmly on doing what we can to support our economy, protecting the vulnerable and ensuring we do all we can to manage the budget reductions in a way that protects services to the community.”
Responding to Coun Cooper’s claim that ELDC could take a more purposeful role by undertaking additional responsibilities, the council leader expressed her commitment to partnership working between the local authorities, while recognising the budget challenges faced by both. “We will work with partners where it is to our residents’ benefit,” she said