St Albans Conservatives elect new leader

Cllr Mary Maynard.

Cllr Mary Maynard. - Credit: Archant

St Albans Conservatives have elected a new leader following the tumultuous local election.

Cllr Mary Maynard.

Cllr Mary Maynard. - Credit: Archant

The long-standing Tory administration at St Albans district council (SADC) was ousted by the Liberal Democrats on May 2, which won 25 seats across the district and are now the largest party in this area.

However, 25 seats is just shy of the majority needed to pass decisions without cross-party support.

One of the councillors who lost their ward was Alec Campbell of St Peter's, who had served as Conservative leader of SADC since 2017.

Cllr Mary Maynard will now take his place as leader of the local party.

She urged the Liberal Democrats to consider an all-party administration.

"People are deeply unhappy about Brexit," she said. "As a result, many voted for Brexit, not bins, and for a council where no party has a majority.

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"Councillors now have a clear choice. Vote for a minority administration by one party and waste precious time disagreeing and squabbling, or vote to involve all parties, with each having a voice and all working together to deliver our residents' goals and aspirations.

"My preference is to work cooperatively and collaboratively to deliver a future where our district is a beacon in conserving our heritage and green spaces and treading lightly on the planet."

She is interested in building homes while maintaining the "leafy, green environment" and delivering infrastructure, keeping taxes down, and working together on projects such as a new football stadium and the River Ver clean-up.

Mary has been a councillor for five years, leading the development of the controversial Local Plan in her role as planning portfolio holder.

She praised former Cllr Campbell: "[He] worked hard for the council and his Conservative administration has left a legacy of low cost, first class council services, delivery of the first 100 below market rent houses in a generation, shared care facilities for the elderly, and new leisure centres."

Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris White said he is still in talks with other parties, but is reserving comment until the new administration is announced at a council meeting on Wednesday.