Labour councillors to decide who will be next leader of St Helens Council

Labour councillors will take a vote on the new leader at its annual general meeting
Labour councillors will take a vote on the new leader at its annual general meeting
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Labour councillors will decide who will be the next leader of St Helens Council tonight.

Last month current leader Derek Long announced he would “stand aside” following the local elections.

Four candidates are in the running to be the next leader: David Baines, Marlene Quinn, Jeanie Bell and John Wiseman.

Tonight, Labour councillors will take a vote at its annual general meeting (AGM).

The contest comes after Labour suffered a series of defeats at Thursday’s local elections.

Labour lost seats in Haydock and Bold to the Green Party, Newton to the Liberal Democrats and Rainhill to an independent, with green belt issues prominent in all four areas.

Whoever gets the nod will be tasked with overseeing the St Helens Local Plan through its final stages.

A publication consultation on the plan is due to end on Monday, May 13, before it is submitted to a government planning inspector. The council expects to adopt the plan in 2020.

Councillors will also hope the new council leader will be able to mend the divisions that have formed within the ranks of the Labour group.

The unrest within the group has grown in recent months and has been exacerbated by a series of leaks.

Coun Long’s cabinet has also seen three cabinet resignations in five months.

It is expected that there will be changes to the cabinet following the appointment of a new leader.

Prior to him announcing he will not stand as leader it was largely expected that Coun Long would be challenged at Labour’s AGM.

Coun Long was appointed as leader in April 2018 following the resignation of Barrie Grunewald, before cementing his position at the AGM.

Speaking following the local elections, Coun Long said: “We are a strong party locally because we always reflect upon what the voters say.

“I’m sure our next leader will continue that process to make sure we deliver the great process of transformation we have started.”