Conservatives hold on to power at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

PUBLISHED: 16:42 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:47 21 May 2019

Tony Kingsbury was re-elected as leader of the council. Picture: WHBC.

Tony Kingsbury was re-elected as leader of the council. Picture: WHBC.

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The Conservatives will remain in charge of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council despite not having a majority, it has been confirmed this week.

Tony Kingsbury was re-elected as leader of the council. Picture: WHBC.Tony Kingsbury was re-elected as leader of the council. Picture: WHBC.

After coalition talks broke down last week between Welwyn Hatfield Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives were left as the only party with enough seats to lead the council.

Reflecting at Monday's meeting on the failure of coalition talks, Labour leader Kieran Thorpe quipped: "When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you end up in opposition."

The Conservatives - who have 23 councillors to Labour's 13 seats and the Lib Dems 12 - voted in favour at the council's annual meeting to re-elect Councillor Tony Kingsbury as leader of Welwyn Hatfield. There were no objections lodged by the other two parties,

Cllr Kingbury then reinstated the same cabinet with no changes.

As a top priority, he said his administration would now focus on getting the council's Local Plan approved so it can deliver some of the estimated 16,000 new homes needed in the area by 2030.

The council still needs to get the plan approved by the government inspector, which it hopes will be completed once feedback has been taken into consideration on adding any new sites to the Local Plan.

Cllr Kingsbury said he hoped that the new make up of the council, with the Conservatives as a minority administration, will encourage the parties to "work together" on the Local Plan and other issues in the borough.

"Over the next 12 months my cabinet and I will work closely and constructively with our Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem peers to make the best decisions for our communities, and the people who live and work in Welwyn Hatfield."

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But for the Lib Dems, Welwyn Garden City's dry ski slope at Gosling Sports Park being turned into homes, under the current draft Local Plan, is not an issue they will compromise on.

Cllr Malcom Cowan, Lib Dem leader for Welwyn Hatfield, said: "We will try to take the ski slope out of the Local Plan. It is not acceptable to us to remove much-used leisure facilities in the name of more homes."

Also during the meeting Cllr Roger Trigg, who was former mayor Barbara Fitzsimon's deputy, was appointed as the new mayor with Cllr Peter Hebden becoming his deputy.

The following councillors, in the cabinet, will be the same as before the election:

- Cllr Tony Kingsbury: leader of the council

- Cllr Stephen Boulton: executive member, environment and planning

- Cllr Nick Pace: executive member, housing and community

- Cllr Fiona Thomson: executive member, governance and public health

- Cllr Terry Mitchinson: executive member, leisure, culture and communications

- Cllr Bernard Sarson: executive member, regeneration, economic development and partnerships

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