Labour councillor to become public face of Conservative run council

A LABOUR councillor is “honoured” to be elected vice-chairman of North Herts District Council (NHDC) - the first time the party have held the post in 14 years.

Hitchin Oughton councillor Joan Kirby was voted in on Thursday by a full council in which 33 of the 49 seats are held by the Conservatives.

Cllr Kirby will become the chairman of NHDC next year - the first Labour councillor to do so since Cllr Judi Billing in 1998-99 - following Cllr Michael Weeks, who was handed the chains from outgoing Cllr David Levett at the meeting.

“I feel quite honoured and I want to thank everyone,” said Cllr Kirby.

“I did my first job on Saturday at St Mary’s Church in Hitchin for MacMillan nurses and I’ve got a few jobs lined up so it’s quite exciting.”

Cllr Kirby, who admitted she was “surprised” to be elected as vice-chairman, added: “When I was chairman of leisure many years ago I was involved in many activities so it’s going to be interesting to see how that area has changed.”

Leader of the council Lynda Needham added: “When the Conservative group discussed who was going to be the next vice-chairman her name was put into the frame along with other members of the Conservative group.

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“We think she has an done an incredible public service to the district and the people of Hitchin.”

New NHDC chairman Mr Weeks confirmed that the charity of the year during his tenure will be North Herts SANDS, a stillbirth and neonatal death charity.

Cllr Weeks, who has a seat on the Baldock Town ward, said: “I am honoured to become chairman of North Herts District Council and hope that I can bring to the role the same level of commitment and energy as my predecessor.

“I have nominated North Herts SANDS as my chosen charity for the year because of the tireless work their volunteers do to help parents and families through the most distressing of experiences.

“Some years ago they gave considerable help, comfort and understanding to my wife and I, and they are a local charity which we are delighted to be able to support.”

In another announcement made on the night, Cllr Andrew Young replaces Cllr Weeks as the Baldock Area Committee chairman. There were no other changes to Cabinet or Area Committee chairman.