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New council leader Peter Chowney promoting an electric car charging point on the sea-front last year (photo: HBC).

New council leader Peter Chowney promoting an electric car charging point on the sea-front last year (photo: HBC).

Chowney elected new council leader

At the annual council meeting on Friday, Councillor Peter Chowney was elected leader of the council in place of the late Jeremy Birch. Lead member posts were also allocated, Nick Terdre reports.

The annual council meeting began with a minute’s silence in memory of Cllr Birch, Cllr Andrew Cartright reports. Cllr Peter Chowney, former deputy leader, was unanimously elected as the new council leader. Cllr Kim Forward is the new deputy leader.

Cllrs Bruce Dowling and Judy Rogers were unanimously re-elected as mayor and deputy mayor for the 2015/16 municipal year.

Cllr Chowney advised the meeting that cabinet would consist of eight members, two of the positions being offered to the Conservative group. Lead member portfolios have been distributed as follows:

  • Cllr Chowney: finance
  • Cllr Forward: housing, communications and equalities
  • Cllr Dawn Poole: regeneration, communities and culture
  • Cllr Warren Davies: environment, parks and community safety
  • Cllr Cartwright: corporate services
  • Cllr John Hodges: charity committee chair.

“When I moved to Hastings eighteen years ago, and adopted it as my home, I could not have imagined that one day, I would be leader of the council,” Cllr Chowney commented. “But while it is a great honour and privilege to do so, it is also with enormous sadness that I take on this role, in the last way I would have wanted to, following Jeremy Birch’s sudden and unexpected death. I cannot be Jeremy, I can’t even be a pale imitation of Jeremy, so I will have to be myself. So that means I shall be different from Jeremy in some ways.

“We do have ambitious plans for the year, and in spite of the savage cuts to our budget, we remain optimistic. I am not going to preside over the Incredible Shrinking Council. If the government won’t give us the money, then we’ll find other ways to raise it. We will remain inventive, innovative, creative, interventionist, bold and, most of all, unerringly ambitious for our town. So, welcome aboard. It’s going to be an exciting ride. There may even be the occasional white knuckle. But one thing I can promise you, it will never be boring.”

The meeting, held at St Mary in the Castle, was attended by all 30 members (23 Labour, seven Conservative; Cllr Matthew Lock has just resigned for personal reasons). Tributes were paid to Jeremy Birch from members of both political groups.

 

This article was published on 27 May and amended by Nick Terdre on 28 May.

Posted 16:33 Wednesday, May 27, 2015 In: Home Ground

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