New leader of Essex County Council outlines ambition
General / Wed 26th May 2021 am31 09:56am
CLLR Kevin Bentley outlines his ambitions for Essex as he officially takes the reins as Leader of the County Council
New leader promises residents: “This administration, this Council, is by your side now and in the future.”
Essex County Council’s new administration came together for the first time today, Tuesday 25 May, for the Annual Council Meeting, which saw key appointments confirmed including Cllr Kevin Bentley becoming the new Leader.
Cllr Bentley welcomed new and returning Members to the meeting at Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre, a Covid-19 secure venue, where he set out his ambitions and vision for his first 100 days as Leader and beyond.
Introducing newly appointed Deputy Leader, Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cllr Bentley praised her achievement in becoming the first ever female Deputy Leader of the County Council, a move he said he was “immensely proud of”.
Cllr Bentley set out his 100 day plan, including a focus on Renewal, Equality and Ambition, three key themes he said would be the ‘guiding principles’ for everything the County Council does.
He said: “They will be at the very heart of everything we do as a council, and everything we do as we work with our partners for the good of the people of Essex.”
Boosting the Essex economy is at the heart of renewal, increasing skills and opportunity, showcasing Essex’s hospitality, tourism, arts and cultural sectors and ensuring the County Council’s door remains firmly open to local businesses and communities across all sectors.
On equality, Cllr Bentley said: “As we aim to improve opportunities for all, we want to give people the tools they need to succeed. No matter who you are, or where you come from, we will focus our levelling up agenda on improving the lives of residents across Essex.
On Ambition, he said: “It is always important to reach for the stars, whether you touch them or not, the attempt is ambition. And we will strive to be as ambitious across everything we do, especially those complex, cross-cutting issues: we will join together and begin to stretch what is possible.
We will signal our intent over those first 100 days with immediate actions that set the path for renewal, equality and ambition.”
These include developing the Kickstart programme to get young people into work, establishing new centres of excellence for the green economy and for the care industry, and taking a fresh approach to Libraries, which will see them remain a focal point in communities and become local hubs for people go to learn, read and relax.
The Council’s plans to tackle climate change and were set out as “a central pillar of everything we do”, driven by the Council’s climate change Czar Cllr Peter Schwier, the Essex Climate Action Commission and partners.
Cllr Bentley finished by reflecting on what has been a difficult year for many, he said: “The emergence of our county from the pandemic already feels like a new dawn. We deeply mourn and remember those who have died from Covid-19 and those who have passed away from other illnesses during this awful year.
“We praise our doctors, nurses, care workers and all key workers who kept us all going during that time and continue to do so. Through their work they give us hope. Together we will take that hope and turn it into a renewal: renewing our economy with equality for all and ambition for everyone.
“To all residents of Essex our message is simple, this administration, this council is by your side, at your side both now and in the future.”