Southend United

Southend City Council to be led by Labour

Image source, Matt Knight/BBC

Image caption,

Daniel Cowan said Labour would "not even contemplate any proposals to scrap libraries"

A new coalition has been formed to lead Southend City Council following the local elections earlier this month.

Labour's Daniel Cowan was elected the new leader of the council at a meeting on Monday evening having secured 20 seats on the 51-seat authority.

His party takes over from the Conservative administration and will work with Independents and the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Cowan said: "It is a great honour to become the new Leader of the Council. I am looking forward to working with the cabinet on behalf of all our residents, businesses and local partners."

The council elected its new leader after the Conservative incumbent Tony Cox resigned at the start of the meeting as a result of his party having lost its majority.

The unitary council faces a number of challenges with Mr Cox warning a few months ago the authority could face bankruptcy.

Image caption,

Former council leader Tony Cox says the new administration is a "coalition of chaos"

There is also growing concern about the future of the city's professional football club, Southend United, which is in the middle of takeover talks with a consortium.

The council has faced protests over delays as it carries out "due diligence" checks on the property elements of the takeover.

Despite that, Mr Cowan used his first speech as leader to rule out closing libraries saying he would not find savings in "improper places".

"This administration will not even contemplate any proposals to scrap libraries, family centres or dementia community support services while we hold office," he said.

The meeting descended into mud-slinging at certain points with the ousted Tories pointing to Labour proposals to change the make-up of scrutiny committees.

Mr Cox, now leading the Conservatives in opposition, described parts of the meeting as "grotesque chaos".

"I joked before they were the coalition of chaos, but I expected it to unravel after three months, not three minutes," he said.

  • England and Wales elections 2024
  • Southend-on-Sea City Council
  • Southend-on-Sea

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