Councillor Rachel Bailey has just been elected as the new leader of the Conservative group on Cheshire East – and is expected to be voted in as the new leader of the council next month. Cllr Bailey, who represents Audlem, was a member of the former Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council before Cheshire East was formed, and is cabinet member for children and families. She beat Cllr Janet Clowes in the two horse race for the Conservative group leadership.
The election of the new group leader today now leaves the council in a somewhat unusual position for the next month. Although Cllr Bailey is the leader of Conservatives – which is the largest party on Cheshire East – she is not yet the leader of the council. That post is still held by Cllr Michael Jones, who will continue as leader until the next full council meeting, which is due to be held on February 25. The new council leader will then be voted in at that February meeting.
Even then it’s not a done deal because the opposition parties could choose a candidate of their own to stand against Cllr Bailey in February. That is highly unlikely however because the Tories have a majority of 24 seats on Cheshire East and, despite the apparent factions in the party, it is not likely those disgruntled Conservatives would vote for a Labour or Independent council leader.
The election for a new party leader was called after Cllr Michael Jones announced last month he intended to stand down, citing ‘infighting’ in the Conservative party as the reason. Cllr Jones has contacted the Chronicle to say he is ‘relieved’ he is no longer group leader and to congratulate Cllr Bailey. Crewe Chronicle