A new administration will begin work at Melton Borough Council later this week with a new Mayor, a dozen newly-elected councillors, 16 re-elected members and a new cabinet-style of decision-making.
The Conservatives will once again be in control of the authority with 22 of the 28 councillors and Joe Orson is likely to be retained as leader with Leigh Higgins continuing as his deputy, subject to a vote approving their nominations at Thursday evening’s full council meeting.
The new Mayor of Melton is expected to be the long-serving member for Wymondham ward, Malise Graham, with Peter Faulkner set to become Deputy Mayor, both appointments also needing to be ratified by a vote on Thursday.
Long-standing councillors Byron Rhodes, Gerald Botterill and David Wright have all stood down but a younger generation is being ushered in, including 22-year-old Rebecca Smedley, in Melton Egerton ward, who is thought to be one of the youngest ever Melton borough councillors.
Councillor Orson is excited about a new era starting at the council with a cabinet of six members set to be appointed to make key decisions within a framework agreed by the full council, replacing the existing committee-style arrangement.
He told the Melton Times: “Having a cabinet will allow us to make decisions quicker and there will be better scrutiny of those decisions through the new scrutiny committee.
“When we considered this new structure at an extraordinary meeting in November the vote was unanimous and I believe it will be good for the council.
“With funding being cut and resources being tight it will also benefit the council to be able to make quicker decisions.”
The Tories will have a reduced majority this time round - they had 26 members before the recent local elections - but Councillor Orson was pleased with the outcome when Melton borough went to the polls.
“I was expecting us to get 18 councillors elected and anything else would have been a bonus so I am delighted that we have 22,” he added.
“It’s sad that we have lost some members and also that we have lost three very experienced councillors who decided not to stand.
“But I’m absolutely delighted that we have someone like Rebecca on the council who, at just turned 22, will be able to reflect the views of young people in the borough.
“She speaks well, she thinks before she speaks and I suspect Rebecca’s career will go far beyond Melton Borough Council.”
Rebecca, who said she was ‘absolutely elated’ to be elected, works as a teaching assistant at one of her old schools, Long Field Academy.
She has been involved in politics since she was 16, helping with campaigns for Conservative candidates, and wanted to stand as soon as she was old enough to do so.
“Hopefully by me being on the council it will help young people to understand that they can make a difference and it could also improve the turnout at future elections,” she told the Melton Times this week.
Her mum, Martina, and step-dad, Andy, are very proud of her, she says, and friends have been supportive as she prepares to serve in local government at a tender age.
Rebecca, who is also a former pupil of the town’s Swallowdale Primary School, added: “I enjoyed campaigning and meeting people in the ward.
“Some are concerned about littering and fly-tipping and others about anti-social behaviour and rising crime.
“There are a wide range of issues and I am really looking forward to doing what I can to help people.”
The new council will include five independent members and Phillip Wood, who is representing the Green Party and serving on the authority for the first time.
Councillor Wood, a university lecturer in Lincoln, will be a member for Melton Dorian ward alongside long-serving Tories, Pat Cumbers and Alan Pearson.
He is keen to help encourage local business growth to raise the relatively low average take home wage of borough residents and plans to do what he can to support the interests of young people.
“One of the differences with the council is that there is now an opposition of six members and I would hope we can gain some kind of a toe-hold and be able to offer an alternative voice to issues,” Councillor Wood told the Melton Times.
“I am not there to be a thorn in the side of the majority on the council but I will be keen to do what I think is best for the local community.”
Councillors to serve Melton Borough Council following recent local elections:
Tejpal Bains (Con)
Jacob Wilkinson (Con)
John Illingworth (Con)
Rob Bindloss (Con)
Jeanne Douglas (Con)
Pat Cumbers (Con)
Alan Pearson (Con)
Phillip Wood (Green)
Peter Faulkner (Con)
Rebecca Smedley (Con)
Chris Fisher (Con)
Alison Freer-Jones (Con)
MELTON NEWPORT Margaret Glancy (Con)
Simon Lumley (Con)
Pam Posnett (Con)
Steven Carter (Ind)
Ronnie de Burle (Con)
Pru Chandler (Con)
Donald Pritchett (Ind)
FRISBY ON THE WREAKE
Ronan Browne (Con)
Robert Child (Con)
LONG CLAWSON & STATHERN
Christopher Evans (Ind)
Mel Steadman (Con)
Malise Graham (Con)
Alan Hewson (Ind)
Leigh Higgins (Con)
Elaine Holmes (Ind)
Joe Orson (Con)