26th Sep, 2020

Wychavon leader set to stand down before polls

THE FIRST woman to lead Wychavon District Council has revealed she is standing down from the role five months before council chiefs go to the polls.

Coun Linda Robinson said the move would enable a new leadership to settle in before May’s elections which will see all 45 seats up for election as the Conservatives look to retain control of the council.

The Upton Snodsbury councillor took the helm from former leader Coun Paul Middlebrough in May 2015 but confirmed she only intended to serve one term as leader and had achieved her aims as the district’s figurehead.

“Being leader of Wychavon has been a huge honour and a privilege. I’m particularly proud of the fact I am Wychavon’s first female leader,” she said.

“I set out my priorities at the start of my term and I’ve achieved them and more thanks to the incredible determination and support of my fellow councillors and dedicated, hard-working officers.

“I never wanted to serve more than one term as leader and having done everything I set out to do, now feels like the right time to give the opportunity to someone new. This will give them a few months to bed in before the elections and give the council the stability and continuity it needs to go on delivering for our residents.

“It will also give me more time to spend with my family and on other interests although I still hope to be able to serve the people of Upton Snodsbury should I be re-elected.”

Among her priorities were to protect essential services and keep council tax low, listen to and respond to residents’ needs, focus more on rural areas and continue to ensure the council is financially stable.

Coun Robinson said hundreds of people in rural areas had been visited as part of a rural door-knocking scheme to identify those at risk of loneliness and a project has been delivered to tackle social mobility and improve the life chances and aspirations of some of Wychavon’s most disadvantaged residents.

Town centres have been supported, including the Droitwich High Street Regeneration Scheme and a new Waitrose store for Evesham.

Housing need, particularly in rural areas, has been addressed, with hundreds of empty homes brought back into use and a Community Land Trust scheme established at Tibberton.

The outgoing leader said savings worth £2million have been delivered with the council on track to reach £4million by 2021 whilst protecting frontline services.

The authority has also received two awards and the district was named the third best place to live in the UK in Halifax’s Rural Quality of Life survey.

Coun Lynne Duffy will become acting leader with a new full-time one being appointed as soon as possible.

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