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New leader and executive members for West Berkshire Council

Conservatives announce new line-up for council

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

IT'S all change at West Berkshire Council – with a new leader, deputy leader, chairman, vice-chairman and executive committee all being announced on Tuesday.

As was expected after her appointment as group leader of the West Berkshire Conservatives last week, Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen) was voted in as leader of the council.

She will replace Graham Jones, who stood down as a councillor after 22 years of service to pursue other interests.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, Mrs Doherty was widely praised by her Conservative colleagues and even the leader of the opposition, as she was elected into her new role.

Councillor Hilary Cole said the way Mrs Doherty had guided the council’s children’s services department from an inadequate rating to a good one in the space of two years showed she had “strong leadership skills”.

In response, Mrs Doherty thanked her colleagues and reiterated her desire to deliver on the commitments made in her party’s manifesto.

She also paid tribute to Mr Jones, who was praised by councillors from all sides of the chamber for his service.

Mrs Doherty selected Graham Bridgman to be her deputy leader.

She also announced changes to the executive committee – the main decision-making body of the council.

The shake-up will see the number of councillors who sit on the committee reduce from 10 to nine to reflect the fact there are now fewer members than there were.

Three new portfolios have also been introduced, while there are some new faces too.

There’s a place on the executive for two newly-elected councillors – Howard Woollaston has been handed responsibility for internal governance, while Jeff Cant has become executive member for finance.

Mrs Doherty will take on the strategy and communications portfolio and will hand over responsibility for children, education and young people to Dominic Boeck.

The new make up of the council's executive committee is now as follows:

  • Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen)– council leader and portfolio holder for strategy and communications
  • Graham Bridgman (Con, Burghfield and Mortimer) – deputy leader and portfolio holder for adult social care
  • Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston) – portfolio holder for children, education and young people
  • Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley and Cold Ash) – portfolio holder for economic development and planning
  • Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham West) – portfolio holder for environment
  • Jeff Cant (Con, Clay Hill) – portfolio holder for finance
  • Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn) – portfolio holder for internal governance
  • Rick Jones (Con, Tilehurst and Purley) – portfolio holder for public health and community well-being
  • Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South & Holybrook) – portfolio holder for transport and countryside.

The new chairman of the council is Graham Pask (Con, Bucklebury). He replaces Carol Jackson-Doerge, who lost her seat in the recent elections.

The new vice-chairman of the council is Clive Hooker (Con, Downlands), who replaces Peter Argyle.

Mrs Cole joked that she was pleased that Mr Hooker was stepping into the role as “he has been a magistrate for 34 years so knows how to keep people on the straight and narrow”.

The chairman has a number of duties and functions, one of them being to lead meetings of the full council.

However, the main role is to act as the official representative of the council on civic and ceremonial occasions and to be a figurehead in the community the council serves.

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