Who are the main contenders and how will the new leader be elected?
With the news last week that Peter Chowney is to step down as leader of Hastings Borough Council (HBC) we’ve been finding out how his successor will be chosen.
Officially the council’s new leader will be chosen at a special meeting of the full council on March 15th but in practise that will merely be a rubber stamping of decisions already made by the ruling Labour group in private session.
The new leader will be elected by the 23 Labour councillors who make up the majority on HBC. Labour says that ‘no wider electorate’ will be involved, so officially local party members do not get a say in electing the man or woman who will lead the council and the Labour group on the council.
“It’s standard practice,” Hastings In Focus was told, “This is a district council with limited powers, unlike say a city authority. Elected councillors are in a good position to judge who will do a good job,” a party spokesman said.
We understand that Labour’s councillors will make their decision in mid-February and at the moment it is unclear whether the party’s decision will be made public immediately or if it will only be announced at the special meeting of the council in March.
Whoever takes over will have around two months to marshal their troops before facing the electorate when 16 of the 32 seats on HBC are contested at local council elections at the beginning of May.
Since Mr Chowney’s, not entirely unexpected, announcement was made last week we’ve been asking around and there were thought to be to be four main contenders to succeed him, however Councillor Judy Rogers confirmed to Hastings in Focus last night that she will not be a candidate for the top job. That leaves the three most likely contenders to be:
Kim Forward current deputy leader of Hasting Borough Council, she represents Gensing ward and is the council’s lead member for Regeneration, Culture and Tourism
An Independent Living Support Worker she is a member of the board of East Sussex Energy Infrastructure and Development Limited (Sea Change Sussex).
In the HBC register of members’ interests she list herself as a member of the following organisations: Labour Party, National Education Union, Education Futures Trust, Crowhurst Park Cricket Club, Sussex M.E. Association, National Trust, Fawcett Society, Labour Women’s Network, 38 degrees, St Matthews Residents Association and the CHART/CLLD Local Action Group
Trevor Webb is not just a member of HBC he is also co-leader of the Labour group on East Sussex County Council. On HBC he represents Central St Leonards and represents Central St Leonards and Gensing on ESCC.
In the HBC register of members’ interests he list himself as a member of the following organisations: GMB Union, Hastings LLP Labour Party, Association of Labour Councillors, Hastings Labour Group, Hastings Seniors Forum, East Sussex County Council, Trustee – Hastings Friendship Group, Trustee – UK Sudanese Homes and Education Trust, One Hastings Many Voices Voluntary Coordinator, Trustee Member of ESCC Pension Committee, Trustee invest in St Leonards.
Andrew Batsford is the member for the St Helens ward. He is a cabinet member with responsibility for Housing, Leisure and Community Engagement.
In the HBC register of members’ interests he lists his membership the Labour Party
and of Unite.
Mr Batsford is not afraid to stick his head above the parapet and is skilled in the use of social media to support and defend the council’s position on a range of issues. He has been on the front line over the controversial plans for development of the old bathing pool site and on the lower tier housing development plans.
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