Worthing Conservatives back new group leader

The Conservative group at Worthing Borough Council met on Monday (November 8) to select a new leader.

New Conservative group leader Kevin Jenkins
New Conservative group leader Kevin Jenkins

Unanimous backing was given to Gaisford ward councillor Kevin Jenkins, who has served as deputy leader of the council and the executive member for regeneration.

Mr Jenkins said his priorities will include ‘continuing to deliver excellent public services, regeneration of key sites, and investment in sustainability’.

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He added: “I am also committed to protecting and enhancing our green and blue spaces whilst taking advantage of how these much-loved areas can help us achieve our net zero-carbon future.”

The vote was called due to the imminent departure of council leader Dan Humphreys.

He has been leader for six and a half years but is leaving to pursue a new role in public relations, outside of Worthing.

Mr Humphreys will continue to serve Offington as ward councillor.

New Conservative group leader Kevin Jenkins will face a challenge on Wednesday (November 10), when WBC meets for an extraordinary meeting to select a new council leader.

The Conservatives are currently without a majority following the resignation of former Marine ward councillor Tim Wills.

This has left the Conservatives with 18 seats, Labour has 15, the Lib Dems hold three, and there is one vacancy.

Worthing Borough Council Liberal Democrat group leader Martin McCabe (Tarring ward) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he was prepared to enter into a coalition ‘with the party that offers the most compelling vision for Worthing in these uncertain times’.

Mr McCabe said he had reached out to both the Conservative and Labour groups to discuss the possibility of a coalition but neither has responded to a request for comment.

However, despite not having a majority of seats, the Conservative group is unlikely to lose overall control of the council at Wednesday’s meeting.

This is because the mayor could use his casting vote in the result of a tie for WBC leadership.

The balance of power on the council also hinges on the Marine ward by-election on December 2 – The Conservatives, Green, Lib Dem and Labour parties are all fielding candidates.