May 18, 2023 2.01 pm This story is over 10 months old

Independent alliance clinches control of South Kesteven by one vote

Tories unseated after tight race

South Kesteven District Council will be led by an Independent coalition after the new leader was elected by just one vote.

The Conservative party lost control for the first time in 20 years after devastating local election results.

With no party having a majority, both the Tories and their opponents were left scrambling to form new alliances in order to reach the needed 29 supporters.

Independent Councillor Richard Cleaver was elected leader by 27 votes to 26 as voting went down to the wire.

A coalition of Independent councillors, Greens, Lib Dems and Labour will lead the council, with Councillor Ashley Baxter as deputy.

The Conservative group, led by new leader Councillor Graham Jeal, had appeared confident that they would be able to secure control with the support of a small group of independents.

However, they fell just short at the Annual General Meeting on Thursday.

Newly-elected South Kesteven District leader Councillor Richard Cleaver | Photo: LDRS/The Lincolnite

Cllr Cleaver said he was honoured to be elected leader of the council, which he intended “to discharge with a fair and open mind”.

He said he was proud of the new majority group.

“Half of them are newly elected councillors who have been elected because they have listened to their electorate and they come here with great energy and commitment,” he said.

“We also have many long serving councillors whose wisdom and experience will be so important in moving this council.”

He said there were a number of key things he would pursure including improving decision making, enhancing scrutiny, and reviewing all major projects.

May’s local elections saw the Conservatives lose many of their seats, as well as group leader Kelham Cooke and deputy leader Adam Stokes.

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