Durham Council Council leadership team gets complete overhaul after election overturned Labour control
Labour’s ousting from power at Durham County Council has been completed with a complete overhaul across the local authority.
A host of new faces, some making their first foray into local government, have been elevated to a range of positions.
As well as Liberal Democrat Amanda Hopgood becoming the first ever female leader of the county council, independent Watts Stelling is believed to be the first non-Labour chairman of the council in 100 years.
He in turn replaced the youngest ever chair of the council, Katie Corrigan, reportedly known among her Labour colleagues as ‘the bairn’, who he paid tribute to on taking up the role officially on Wednesday (May 26).
Cllr Stelling said: “Can I first thank Katie [Corrigan] for her term in office, it hasn’t been an easy time to be chair of the council – for all you’ve done in unprecedented circumstances, thank you.
“This is a great honour for me and my family and I’m looking forward to coming and meeting all of you in your communities.
“Whatever you want me to do, I will be on hand.”
Conservative councillor Beaty Bainbridge was elected vice chair of the council.
A new look cabinet was also unveiled including three Liberal Democrats, three Conservatives, three independent councillors and one from the North East Party.
Chair and vice chair positions were also allocated for the local authority’s 21 panels and committees.
All bar one is to be chaired by a member of the new ruling ‘joint administrations of Lib Dems, Conservatives and independents, with Labour’s Bill Kellett handed control of the Pensions Committee.
Labour was also handed six vice chair positions.
Following the council’s annual meeting to kick off the new municipal year, newly appointed Conservative deputy leader Richard Bell said: “Historically Labour has offered two vice chairs to opposition groups.
“We’ve offered them six, which is three times more, and Labour’s demand for a more proportional share was not realistic, particularly given we have four [political groups in the joint administration.”
New cabinet appointments:
Amanda Hopgood (Liberal Democrat) – leader of the council, including responsibility for human resources Richard Bell (Conservative) – deputy leader of the council, including finance, customer services and member development portfolio Ted Henderson (Conservative) – children and young people Paul Sexton (independent) – adults and health Susan McDonnell (North East Party) – ICT, digital and transformation, including procurement and customer service Alan Shield (Derwentside Independents) – equality and inclusion, including homelessness and fuel poverty John Shuttleworth (independent) – rural communities and highways Mark Wilkes (Liberal Democrat) – neighbourhoods, environment and climate change James Rowlandson (Conservative) – resources, investment and assets, including housing stock, strategic employment sites, sport and leisure Elizabeth Scott (Liberal Democrat) – economy and partnerships, including tourism and culture.