New Leader of South Kesteven District Council appointed

The new Leader of South Kesteven District Council is Coun Ashley Baxter, who was voted in at a meeting of the Full Council on Thursday.
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Coun Baxter, who steps up from his role as Deputy Leader, was voted in by 29 votes to 25 (with one abstention) ahead of Conservative Coun Graham Jeal, who is part of the South Kesteven Coalition Group.

Coun Baxter takes over from Coun Richard Cleaver who resigned at the start of the meeting after being in the role since May 2023 when an Independent-led coalition formed a new administration following local elections.

The change was in line with an agreement that there would be an opportunity for the administration to review the leadership in January 2024.

New Leader of SKDC, Coun Ashley Baxter.New Leader of SKDC, Coun Ashley Baxter.
New Leader of SKDC, Coun Ashley Baxter.

Coun Baxter, the Independent member for Market and West Deeping, paid tribute to Coun Cleaver’s record as Leader.

He said: “This change of leadership is not the result of any crisis or instability, and I don’t intend that it should be the cause of any instability.

“There are 70,000 households that are relying on us to deliver efficient, effective, value for money services.

“We can only do that if we all play our part and work together, cross-party, cross-chamber, members and officers alike. Of course we need constructive abrasion but we all need to remember that ultimately, we’re all on the same team. Thanks for appointing me as Team Captain.”

As a member of the Council’s Cabinet, Coun Baxter will continue to oversee the Finance and Economic Development portfolios.

Coun Cleaver becomes Deputy Leader and retains the Property and Public Engagement portfolios.

Other Cabinet members and their responsibilities remain the same:

Coun Rhys Baker and Coun Patsy Ellis, Environment and Waste

Coun Phil Dilks, Housing and Planning

Coun Philip Knowles, Corporate Governance and Licensing

Coun Rhea Rayside, People and Communities

Coun Paul Stokes, Leisure and Culture