May 23, 2022 9.28 pm

SKDC leader Kelham Cooke sees off leadership challenge

He said he was “honoured” by the result

South Kesteven District Council leader Kelham Cooke has fought off a leadership challenge and won to stay in position.

Councillor Cooke faced off fellow Tory Councillor Graham Jeal at a meeting of the Conservative Group on Monday night and took the vote.

Following the meeting Councillor Cooke said he was “honoured” by the result.

“Over the last three years we have achieved so much and I’m looking forward to the next 12 months in the build up to the elections,” he said.

“Thank you for your support.”

South Kesteven District Council will confirm Councillor Cooke’s re-election as leader on Thursday when it holds its Annual General Meeting.

Sources close to the council said Councillor Jeal had “the support of a majority of councillors,” but several were away or too ill to attend.

The sources added Councillor Jeal’s side was focusing on policy and next year’s elections, arguing the leadership was “lacking direction”.

Some feared that without change the Tories will lose control of the council.

However,  Councillor Cooke’s supporters focused instead on personality, arguing his removal would “destroy a young man’s career when he inherited problems left by [previous leader] Cllr Lee”.

They believed the Independents are too fractured to take control next year.

Councillor Cooke was elected to SKDC in 2015 and took over from Councillor Matthew Lee as leader of the authority in 2019 seeing off competition from then Councillor Bob Adams.

He was elected to LCC in 2021.