Stevenage Borough Council has a new opposition group following local elections earlier this month, with the Liberal Democrats replacing the Conservatives.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group is now Cllr Stephen Booth, with their former leader Cllr Robin Parker becoming deputy leader.

Cllr Booth told the Comet he was "humbled and delighted" to lead the group, and to become leader of the opposition.

He continued: “Robin has served our party for over 40 years. There are times when he has been our only representative on the council.

"Throughout that time he has ardently taken up problems and issues on behalf of residents in the Manor ward and in the Chells division of the Hertfordshire County Council, which he has represented since 2005.

"Robin has provided dogged and persuasive advocacy in the council chamber.


“In his new role as deputy leader I know Robin will continue to deliver for local people in Chells and Manor as well as being a valuable source of knowledge and support to me as we take the group forward.”

At the annual council meeting on Wednesday, May 22, Cllr Parker received an award from departing mayor Cllr Myla Arceno to mark his 40 years of service to the council.

Cllr Parker light-heartedly asked: "Does that make me father of the house?"

"Please note - very important point here - that that does not necessarily mean I'm the oldest member, I just wanted to place that on the record!"

After the elections, Labour remained the largest group with 32 seats, compared to six for the Liberal Democrats. Only one Conservative councillor, group leader Cllr Phil Bibby, kept his seat. It is the first time since 2008 that the Conservatives have not been the official opposition in the council.

Cllr Richard Henry, who continues as leader of the council and of the Labour group, thanked those who had stepped down or lost their seats at the recent election.

He thanked former Labour councillors Baroness Taylor of Stevenage, Michael Downing, Joan Lloyd and Maureen McKay, who between them contributed more than 100 years service to the council.

Cllr Henry also paid tribute to Margaret Notley, who lost her seat as a Conservative councillor when lots were drawn following a tied vote and a recount. She had twice served as mayor of Stevenage.

Cllr Booth added that he had been "genuinely saddened" to see Ms Notley lose her seat in such a way.

The remaining Conservative representative, Cllr Bibby, joked that he is now part of "probably the least diverse group in the council, being a white, middle class male".

Annual council also brought changes to the council's leadership, with executive portfolio holders now to be referred to as cabinet members.

The cabinet for this year will be as follows:

  • Cllr Richard Henry, Transforming Stevenage (council leader)
  • Cllr Jeannette Thomas, Resources and transformation (council deputy leader)
  • Cllr Jackie Hollywell, Housing
  • Cllr Sandra Barr, Co-operative council and neighbourhoods
  • Cllr Loraine Rossati, Culture, leisure and wellbeing
  • Cllr Simon Speller, Environment and performance
  • Cllr Lloyd Briscoe, Economy, skills and transport
  • Cllr Conor McGrath, Stronger communities