The first ever female leader of Durham County Council could be elected at annual meeting
The first ever female leader of Durham County Council could be elected on Wednesday, May 26.
If passed, the historic vote could also confirm Labour’s loss of overall control in the council chamber for the first time in a century.
The party saw its former majority crumble earlier this month (May) following a bruising round of local elections, paving the way for an opposition alliance which could force it from power.
And following the decision of incumbent council leader Simon Henig to step down, his place could be taken by serving Liberal Democrat opposition leader Amanda Hopgood.
“We recognise that, subject to a successful annual meeting, this will be an historic moment for Durham County Council ” said a spokesperson for the new political group, which includes Conservative and independent county councillors, as well as Lib Dems.
“Not only will the council be run by a non-Labour administration for the first time, it will also have its first ever female leader.
“In building to this moment, the partners have demonstrated what can be achieved by focusing on the big picture and the best outcome for communities across the county.
“That is the approach that the Joint Administration of Durham County Council intends to continue taking during its time in office.
“In that spirit, we are willing to work with any and all groups for the good of County Durham.”
The annual council meeting on Wednesday, May 26, is due to be the first time that county councillors have met in person, rather than via a videolink, for official business in more than a year, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The session, which traditionally kicks off the new municipal year, is due to be held at Spennymoor Leisure Centre, to allow social distancing.
The top job is expected to be contested between Cllr Hopgood and Labour’s Carl Marshall, who were both elected to the county council, in its current form, in 2008, representing Framwellgate and Newton Hall and Stanley, respectively.
Ahead of the vote, Cllr Hopgood said: “It’s an absolute honour to be proposed and we will see what tomorrow brings.”