THE Conservative contingent of Woking Borough Council rejoiced on Monday night when, back by popular demand, Councillor John Kingsbury was re-elected Leader of the pack by his colleagues.
Proposed by fellow Tory Cllr Saj Hussain, and seconded by new Deputy Mayor Graham Cundy, no one contested Cllr Kingsbury’s resilient leadership qualities, although he admitted at the time: “I thought there might be another nomination…”
Now representing the new Heathlands ward, Cllr Kingsbury told the News & Mail: “I am delighted to have been re-elected Leader of the borough and will do my best to guide the council in the interests of all residents and businesses in Woking.
“With local elections now over until 2018, it is important we put behind us the arguments of this year’s campaign and work as one council to deliver the best possible services for our residents.
“Some tough decisions will be necessary over the coming months, in particular the Victoria Square development, the Sheerwater regeneration scheme, West Byfleet re-development proposals, and the Green Belt Review.
“I hope we can work on a cross party basis to agree these schemes and look forward to a challenging year ahead.”
Few councillors have witnessed quite as many whos, whats, whys, wherefores and wonders that have crossed the local authority’s path as life-long resident Cllr Kingsbury.
The former Westfield pupil has been Council Leader since July 2008, and a councillor since 1999. He was Deputy Mayor in 2005/ 2006, Mayor for the 2006/2007 term, and has been on numerous charity committees and boards, notably the Bisley, Knaphill & West End branch of the Royal British Legion.
At Monday’s meeting, addressing the full council, he said: “It is an honour for me to serve as Leader following the boundary review, which reduced the number of councillors from 36 to 30.
“I will exercise my leadership through the Executive,” for which he appointed David Bittleston as his Deputy, along with Cllrs Hussain, Melanie Whitehand, Ashley Bowes, Colin Kemp and Beryl Hunwicks.
Cllr Kingsbury added: “I’d like to welcome all new councillors to the Chamber and hope you will embrace the ambitions of this council to meet the needs of the community. It is important we work as one council.
“I recognise the Liberal Democrat Party as the official opposition, and welcome other Labour and Independent party members.
“We must be mindful of the future generations, not just those existing electors who can argue loudly in their own interests.
“We owe it to the children of the borough – our future electorate – to rise above the local challenges of today.”
Cllr Kingsbury pointed out that there has been a lot of change in the borough over recent years, with yet more still to come,
and he hopes to see through as much of the regeneration as possible.