Cllr Louise Gittins, ward councillor for Little Neston, has been elected to lead Cheshire West and Chester Council for the next four years.
Cllr Gittins was nominated by outgoing leader Cllr Samantha Dixon, and voted in at Tuesday evening’s full council meeting.
Cllr Karen Shore was confirmed as deputy leader of the council.
Accepting the role of leader, Cllr Gittins said: “Thank you for electing me to be the new leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, I am humbled to be in such a privileged position.”
She continued: “I would like to pay tribute to our previous leader Cllr Samantha Dixon. Sam has transformed this council; she brought respect back into its heart.
“Her approach was ambitious, daring and outward looking, building collaborative partnerships in the public and private sector.”
Cllr Gittins added: “Sam has given us a strong and influential voice in the region.
“Despite the huge pressure from central government cuts, Sam has ensured that the most vulnerable in our communities have been protected.
“Under your leadership Sam, we are an awarding-winning council, thank you.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s new cabinet, which includes three new members, will be comprised as follows:
- Cllr Karen Shore – deputy leader’s portfolio which includes environment, highways and strategic transport
- Cllr Nicole Meardon – cabinet member for children and families
- Cllr Paul Donovan – cabinet member for democracy, workforce and localities
- Cllr Richard Beacham – cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth
- Cllr Val Armstrong – cabinet member for adult social care and public health
- Cllr Carol Gahan – cabinet member for finance and legal
- Cllr Louise Gittins – leader’s portfolio which includes wellbeing, culture, leisure, heritage and greenspace)
Cllr Gittins also indicated her intention to appoint three “Leader’s Champions” to tackle three ‘extraordinary challenges’ facing the borough.
These are: climate emergency; poverty and inequality; and mental health.
Councillors will be appointed to these roles at the next meeting of the cabinet.
Who is Louise Gittins?
Cllr Gittins was first elected to Cheshire West and Chester Council in 2011, serving Little Neston and Burton.
She became shadow spokesperson for culture and leisure in 2012 and shadow deputy leader in 2014.
The 2015 election saw Cllr Gittins become deputy leader of the council, as well as taking on the portfolio of communities and wellbeing.
She lives in Neston with her husband and cats and loves all things outdoors, culture and heritage.
Cllr Gittins said: “My vision for the next four years is that of a compassionate Cheshire West and Chester that works to build stronger communities.
“Against the background of austerity, we need to rebuild the safety nets eroded by cuts.
“I want us to continue to create services based on social value, strive to tackle poverty and discrimination, promote equality and fight prejudice wherever we see it.
“Residents should feel safe on their streets and secure in their homes.
“I want us to continue to empower local people and ensure communities are at the heart of decision making, like we’ve seen through our Poverty Truth Commission.
“I believe that this is vital for us to be the best borough in the country. Our council should be one our residents can be proud of and I’m looking forward to working towards that over the next four years. I won’t let you down.”
Cllr Margaret Parker was confirmed as leader of the Conservatives, supported by Cllr Lynn Gibbon as deputy leader.
Cllr Parker’s shadow cabinet comprises:
- Cllr John Leather– opposition member for environment, highways and strategic transport
- Cllr Jill Houlbrook – opposition member for children and families
- Cllr Helen Weltman – opposition member for democracy, workforce and localities
- Cllr Lynn Gibbon – opposition member for housing, regeneration and growth
- Cllr Lynn Riley – opposition member for adult social care and public health
- Cllr Neil Sullivan – opposition member for finance and legal
- Cllr Stuart Parker – opposition member for culture and leisure
The leader of the Liberal Democrats is Cllr Paul Roberts.
Cllr Bob Rudd, ward member for the Chester City and Garden Quarter, was re-elected as chairman of the council, with Cllr Bob Bisset as deputy chairman.