A poll at tonight’s first full council meeting since the local elections on May 2 has confirmed Conservative Bob Bayford as the leader of Thanet council – but only by one vote.
Cllr Bayford and Labour leader Rick Everitt were both nominated for the position and a show of hands resulted in 24 votes apiece.
The casting vote taken by new council chairman Jason Savage resulted in the appointment of Cllr Bayford.
Thanet council’s three new Green councillors and Independent Ruth Bailey voted for Cllr Everitt. Conservatives voted for Bob Bayford. The Thanet Independent Party members abstained from voting for either candidate.
Cllr Bayford said: “Looking at the larger Labour opposition it reminds me f the old days, notice I I am not saying the good old days, I remember this chamber a few years ago was fractious and that did not help the quality of votes or decisions.
” I think the chamber is very interesting now, we have a spread of parties. We now have Green Party members for the first time, a range of experience and a lot of much younger councillors.
“It is no secret that this is a difficult time for local government and Thanet faces particular challenges and to meet these challenges it will be far more effective if we work together.”
Conservative Westbrook ward councillor Ash Asby was appointed deputy leader and portfolio holder for operational services.
Reece Pugh is the new portfolio holder for corporate governance; David Saunders heads up financial services; Lesley Anne Game takes the housing portfolio again and Cllr Bayford will continue to oversee Ramsgate port and harbour.
Labour leader Rick Everitt announced his shadow positions. Helen Whitehead is deputy leader and housing portfolio; Rob Yates heads is shadow financial services; Steve Albon takes operational services and Ruth Duckworth is shadow portfolio holder for corporate governance.
Conservative councillor Linda Wright was elected as vice chair.
This month’s election saw Labour gain 15 seats, going from five seats to 20, while Conservatives gained three taking their total to 25.
Greens are on the authority for the first time winning three seats. Independent Ruth Brackstone-Bailey also gained a seat. Thanet Independents party won seven seats, a loss of six pre-election places, and UKIP was completely wiped out.
The make up of the council means it is minority led by the Conservatives but alliance from other groups will be needed to gain approval for motions.