New Forest councillor on course to become Hampshire leader

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Brockenhurst Cllr Keith Mans

THE new leader of Hampshire County Council has been announced – and he is a New Forest councillor.

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Cllr Keith Mans, current Conservative deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, is set to become the new leader of the county council. The news comes after current leader Cllr Roy Perry said he will step down.

An official announcement is expected to be made at the annual general meeting of the county council in Winchester on 17th May.

But it has been confirmed that HCC Conservatives group have elected Cllr Mans as their new group leader, meaning he is now predicted to be elected as HCC leader next week, given the Tories’ majority with 56 seats to 19 Liberal Democrats and two Labour.

Cllr Mans represents the Brockenhurst division on HCC and had previously represented Lyndhurst. He was an MP for Wyre in Lancashire between 1987 and 1997.

He had previously thrown his hat into the ring when Cllr Perry announced he was resigning.

Cllr Perry said: “I congratulate Keith on his election as group leader and he will have my full support.

“He brings significant experience to the role of leader of the county not least having been an MP. Making sure that Hampshire’s voice is heard in Westminster and Whitehall is one of the key roles of a county leader and Keith will be excellent in that role.”

Hampshire County Council leader Cllr Roy Perry

As reported in the A&T, Cllr Perry will step down from his position after six years at the helm.

He said he will continue as county councillor for Romsey Rural and as chair of South East Councils, the all-tier grouping of local councils in the south-east, from Kent to  Hampshire and up to Oxfordshire.

Cllr Perry added: “I will look forward to having a little more time to relax. It has been a  seven-day-a-week role which I have relished but time comes to take things a bit easier.

“At South East England Councils I will keep reminding the government that the south-east is one of just three regions that makes a positive contribution to the national exchequer.”

Cllr Perry was first elected as a councillor in June 1970 to represent Chandlers Ford on Eastleigh Borough Council.

He then stood as a parish councillor in Wellow, as well as a borough councillor, and also leader of Test Valley Borough Council. He represented the region as an MEP between 1994 and 2004.

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