A NEW leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council has been elected.

Cllr Louise Gittins, who represents Little Neston, has replaced Cllr Samantha Dixon at the helm.

Nominated by Cllr Dixon and voted in at Tuesday night's council meeting, Cllr Gittins thanked her predecessor for ‘bringing respect back in to the heart of the council’.

Cllr Karen Shore was confirmed as deputy leader of the council.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Gittins said: “Thank you for electing me to be the new leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, I am humbled to be in such a privileged position.

“I would like to pay tribute to our previous leader Cllr Samantha Dixon. Sam has transformed this council – she brought respect back into its heart.

"Her approach was ambitious, daring and outward looking, building collaborative partnerships in the public and private sector.

“Sam has given us a strong and influential voice in the region. Despite the huge pressure from central government cuts, Sam has ensured that the most vulnerable in our communities have been protected.

"Under your leadership Sam, we are an awarding-winning council, thank you.”

Cllr Gittins also announced her cabinet on Tuesday, which includes three new members.

  • Cllr Karen Shore – deputy leader's portfolio which includes environment, highways and strategic transport
  • Cllr Nicole Meardon – children and families
  • Cllr Paul Donovan – democracy, workforce and localities
  • Cllr Richard Beacham – housing, regeneration and growth
  • Cllr Val Armstrong – adult social care and public health
  • Cllr Carol Gahan – finance and legal
  • Cllr Louise Gittins – wellbeing, culture, leisure, heritage and greenspace

She also indicated her intention to appoint three leader’s champions, designed to tackle three ‘extraordinary challenges’ facing the borough – climate, poverty and inequality, and mental health. Councillors will be appointed to these roles at the next meeting of the cabinet.

Cllr Gittins was first elected to CWAC in 2011 to serve Little Neston and Burton. She became shadow spokesperson for culture and leisure in 2012 and shadow deputy leader in 2014. The 2015 election saw her become deputy leader of the council, as well as taking on the portfolio of communities and wellbeing.

She lives in Neston with her husband and cats and loves all things outdoors, culture and heritage.

Cllr Gittins added: “My vision for the next four years is that of a compassionate Cheshire West and Chester that works to build stronger communities.

“Against the background of austerity, we need to rebuild the safety nets eroded by cuts. I want us to continue to create services based on social value, strive to tackle poverty and discrimination, promote equality and fight prejudice wherever we see it. Residents should feel safe on their streets and secure in their homes.

“I want us to continue to empower local people and ensure communities are at the heart of decision making, like we’ve seen through our Poverty Truth Commission.

“I believe that this is vital for us to be the best borough in the country. Our council should be one our residents can be proud of and I’m looking forward to working towards that over the next four years. I won’t let you down.”

Cllr Bob Rudd, a member for the Chester City and Garden Quarter ward, was re-elected as chairman of the council with Cllr Bob Bisset as deputy chairman.

Cllr Margaret Parker was confirmed as leader of the Conservative opposition, supported by Cllr Lynn Gibbon as deputy leader.

The shadow cabinet includes:

  • Cllr John Leather– environment, highways and strategic transport
  • Cllr Jill Houlbrook – children and families
  • Cllr Helen Weltman – democracy, workforce and localities
  • Cllr Lynn Gibbon – housing, regeneration and growth
  • Cllr Lynn Riley – adult social care and public health
  • Cllr Neil Sullivan – finance and legal
  • Cllr Stuart Parker – culture and leisure

The leader of the Liberal Democrats is Cllr Paul Roberts.