The Labour Party has had a change of leadership in North East Lincolnshire after the local elections.
Cllr Kathryn Wheatley, a West Marsh ward councillor, was chosen at the local party’s AGM to lead the group in a contested election.
Former leader Cllr Matthew Patrick will remain in the group after being re-elected as a Heneage ward councillor on May 4.
The change in leader comes after Labour gained one councillor on North East Lincolnshire Council and comfortably held onto the four councillors it had up for election this year.
Conservative party majorities were significantly reduced in several wards, but unlike a number of other areas around the country, Labour had only the one gain to show for its increased support.
Cllr Wheatley will now lead Labour’s nine councillors, who are the main opposition group to the Conservatives with 27.
Cllr Patrick had been the party’s group leader for four years, since Labour lost control of the council. This year’s local elections were the first since 2018 where Labour had overall gained a councillor.
Cllr Wheatley said: “At the AGM of the Labour group held this week I am proud to have been elected to the position of leader. I recognise all of the hard work carried out by Matt Patrick in the past few years and thank him for his service to the group and party.
“In this new council year it is really important that the administration are held to account over the decisions being made, residents must come first. I am confident that my Labour group has the skills, experience and knowledge to be able to challenge and to offer alternatives when needed.
“As the first woman leader of any political party in North East Lincolnshire this century, and only second since the creation of the authority, I am excited to be able to lead the Labour Group into this year.
“I am pleased to welcome back Cllrs Wilson, Patrick and Goodwin to the group and am delighted to welcome new Cllrs Janet Haggis and Malcolm Morland.
“I think that this council year will be exciting and I pledge to do my best. My priorities are to ensure that all residents are getting the services they need and deserve, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Cllr Wheatley has been a West Marsh ward councillor for a year. She was elected to Croft Baker ward in 2016, but lost the seat in 2021. Together with Cllr Patrick, she pushed for the council to declare a cost of living emergency in December.
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