New Welwyn Hatfield Labour leader

COUNCILLOR Kieran Thorpe has been installed as the new leader of Welwyn Hatfield’s Labour group.

The 30-year-old has taken over from former chief Margaret Birleson, who was stripped of her seat at the borough council election earlier this month.

Voted on to the council in a by-election in Hatfield South last June, Cllr Thorpe said he was happy about his new title and was looking forward to getting on with the job.

He said: “I feel a real sense of pride that I’ve been chosen to lead the Labour group.

“I am sad the situation has arisen in light of Welwyn Hatfield losing three of its hardest working councillors [Margaret Birleson, Steve Roberts and Colin Croft].”

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Having been chosen party leader so soon after becoming a councillor, does Cllr Thorpe think he is up for the task in hand?

“I’ve been fighting for local residents all my life, from protesting against Tory school closures in 1982 as a toddler, to much more recently being heavily involved with Action Hatfield, to pressurise the Tory administration to get its act together and finally deliver a new town centre for Hatfield,” he said.

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“Thanks to the Tories, sadly, I am well versed in fighting their cuts.”

Cllr Thorpe, who lives in Old Hatfield, said he intended to become a “servant” to the people of Welwyn Hatfield in order to tackle the Tory hold in the area.

There are 40 Conservatives on the borough council, compared to just five Labour councillors and three Lib Dems.

He added: “Clearly, with such a large majority on the council, the Tories are used to simply doing what they like but I intend to be the best servant I can to the people I represent.

“People are far too quick to slate Welwyn Hatfield, but I feel the many good points it has, along with the memories of what once was, mean that genuine progress can be made to make this a place all of us can be proud of.”

Mrs Birleson said she was happy Cllr Thorpe had replaced her.

She said: “He has my support and the whole of the Labour party.

“He is young, enthusiastic and he will be excellent and hold the Tories to account.”

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