May 5, 2023 5.00 am This story is over 9 months old

“I’m off”: Three council leaders lose seats in Lincolnshire local elections

Respected lord and the young gun tipped for future MP role ousted by voters

Three Lincolnshire council leaders have lost their seats in the local elections on Thursday night.

Gary Porter, of South Holland District Council, Kelham Cooke, of South Kesteven District Council and Paul Skinner, of Boston Borough Council, have all been swept from the board as a result of the May 4 poll.

Mr Porter stood for the Spalding St Mary’s Ward where he received 368 votes, but South Holland Independents members Dave Ashby and Mark Le Sage pipped him to the post with 472 and 559 votes respectively. He led the authority for the Conservatives for 20 years.

Kelham Cooke dropped to the bottom of the pile in his Casewick Ward at South Kesteven with 688 votes. He was beaten by Green party member Vanessa Smith with 1,057 votes and Rosemary Trollope-Bellew who recently left the Conservatives before returning for the vote and who took 709 votes.

In Paul Skinner’s Boston ward, all three Conservative party councillors were booted by the electorate, with the leader himself taking 397 votes, fewer than his wife Judith at 453. His opponents David Scoot, Sarah Sharpe and Helen Staples of the Boston Independent party won with 800, 900 and 952 votes respectively.

Following the results, Kelham Cooke said: “It has been an honour and privilege to serve the Casewick for the last 12 years, and for the last four years as leader of South Kesteven District Council.

“Sadly, I wasn’t successful in my re-election and congratulate both Vanessa and Rosemary and wish them and the ward the best for the future.”

Lord Gary Porter told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: “It’s one of those things, everyone who stands for election knows there are only two ways it can go. I’ve been lucky for the last five or six elections where it has gone one way, and tonight the electorate has decided it was going to go the other.”

He praised his opposition candidates, adding: “I have no complaints about the people who beat me, or the way they fought their campaigns.”

However, he said he would not be returning to the council saying “politics is a one way valve”.

“I’ve done it for 20 years, I gave it my best shot. I’ve loved it to bits, been really proud to be able to do it… But when people tell you it’s time to go, that’s it. It’s time to go. So I’m off.”

Councillor Paul Skinner told BBC Radio Lincolnshire his party “worked hard” to bring funding to the area and build relationships with government.

However, he lashed out at the previous administration’s “indecision” in attracting funding, and at media coverage over the town’s lack of Christmas lights – blaming again previous administrations.

Asked why the Independents had done so well, he said: “They must have run a very good campaign on one leaflet where we put four out.

“Good luck to them. It’s all right getting in, but you have to deliver.

“I, over the last three and a half years, have taken this community through a major pandemic, I’ve made sure that the government resources have got to where they need to be. Personally I’ve helped out as a volunteer in quite a few places and I can’t do any more than that.”

Owen Brierley at West Lindsey, and Craig Leyland at East Lindsey District Council both kept their seats.

City of Lincoln Council leader Ric Metcalfe’s Glebe Ward seat was not up for grabs this year. However, the Liberal Democrats did take the seat from fellow Labour candidate Jackie Kirk.

North Kesteven District Council are due to carry out their count Friday morning.

See all our local elections coverage on MyLocal Lincolnshire, the new home of The Lincolnite