Arlesey councillor confirmed to lead Central Bedfordshire until May 2023

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Conservative Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham is the new leader of Central Bedfordshire Council until the next local authority elections in May 2023.

The former deputy leader replaces Westoning, Flitton and Greenfield councillor James Jamieson, who has stepped down from the role.

Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark has agreed to become deputy leader, while retaining her executive portfolio for families, education and children,

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Councillor Wenham defeated Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey in a vote at a full council meeting, on Thursday, January 14.

Cllr Richard WenhamCllr Richard Wenham
Cllr Richard Wenham

"I'm very proud to have been a member of this council since 2011 and I'm now very excited to be elected as leader," said councillor Wenham.

"Under the outstanding leadership of our outgoing leader, councillor Jamieson, the performance of this council has been dramatically improved in all areas.

"He underlined the importance of introducing financial rigour, balancing the budget every year for ten years and rebuilding reserves, even though CBC is one of the lowest funded authorities in the country.

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"His achievements have also been nationally recognised as Conservative group leader on the LGA and subsequently as its chairman.

"The recent appointment of a new chief executive and now council leader gives us a greater scope to accelerate change.

"I'm determined we bring forward proposals of inclusivity and make progress towards tackling poverty.

"The key part of this will be to encourage sustainable economic regeneration," he added.

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"Ae leader I hope to work with all members, our officers and chief executive to join a common cause to deliver the things our residents care about."

Councillor Jamieson described it as a "sad and relieving day to be leaving the leadership, but I know it's in excellent hands".

He said: "I would like to place on record my thanks to all those who helped over the last ten years. I really appreciate your contribution.

"I wish my successor councillor Wenham all the best. We can as councillors make a difference and we do just that."

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CBC chairman and Conservative Stotfold and Langford chairman Brian Saunders thanked councillor Jamieson, saying: "We're grateful for all your work, as well."

Councillor Wenham was elected by 40 votes to ten, with five abstentions.

Conservative Arlesey councillor David Shelvey will take over councillor Wenham's previous role as executive member for corporate resources.

A new highways portfolio will be the responsibility of Conservative Arlesey councillor Ian Dalgarno.

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Place, planning and regeneration will have a new deputy Conservative Shefford councillor Mark Liddiard.

And a new portfolio for health, wellbeing and communities will be led by Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock.

Councillor Jamieson will continue to chair the Local Government Association (LGA) and to represent his CBC ward, having announced his resignation in November.

He said at the time: "In the context of the pandemic and the huge social and economic consequences this will have for local government, I’ve concluded now is the right time for me to stand down as leader and to focus more of my attention on my national role at the LGA."