ELDC leader reveals why ‘it’s time to go’

Coun Doreen Stephenson - stepping down as leader of ELDC
Coun Doreen Stephenson - stepping down as leader of ELDC

Doreen Stephenson confirmed she will quit as leader of East Lindsey District Council at next month’s elections and admitted: “It’s time to go.”

Coun Stephenson has led the authority for the last eight years, through what she admits have been difficult economic times.

However, she said she was leaving with her head held high and had “absolutely no regrets.”

Coun Stephenson said she was stepping down because of personal issues but did not rule out some sort of political role in the future.

In an exclusive interview, she said: “It has been a difficult decision to make but I have been a (district) councillor for 12 years and leader for the last eight.

“There are one or two personal reasons but I think it is time to go - time to let someone else have a chance.

“I feel proud and privileged to have held the position and I think I can leave with my head held high.

“I certainly have no regrets and this council has achieved so much.

“I wouldn’t have been frightened fighting the next election but I just felt it is the right time to move on.”

Coun Stephenson moved to live in Woodhall Spa earlier this year but represents the North Thoresby ward.

She was the first Conservative to lead the council - and the first female leader - since local government re-organisation in 1974.

She described the last eight years as leader as “wonderful” but also admitted it was a tough challenge.

Coun Stephenson added; “I think everyone is aware of the difficult economic conditions.

“I am proud to say I am leaving a council which has no debt and a sound footing.

“Yes, I’m sure there will be tough challenges ahead but the council is in a position to cope because of some of the things we have put in place.”

Coun Stephenson, who is officially leader until the May 7 elections, highlighted a number of achievements which have marked her tenure as leader.

They include the setting up of Compass Point - a ground-breaking project with other authorities which will save ELDC £20m over 10 years.

She also spoke about the decision to out-source leisure facilities to Magna Vitae - again a move that will save ELDC millions of pounds while guaranteeing services for residents.

She added; “We have managed to protect frontline services at a time of significant cuts to our own funding and that has to be an achievement.

“East Lindsey is now recognised as a respected body at national level

“I feel very proud to have been leader but it has been very much a team effort.

“I have received some fantastic support from fellow councillors, officers and staff.

“We haven’t always seen eye to eye but that is politics. I will miss everyone.”

Coun Stephenson said she was looking forward to spending more time with her family and focussing on a number of charitable projects.

She added: “I don’t think people realise the amount of time being leader takes up.

“It is a full-time job and that’s the way I decided to go when I took over.

”Now, I want to take time to consider a few other options. I wouldn’t rule out a future role in politics. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Coun Stephenson was reluctant to comment on her likely successor.

The current deputy is Craig Leyland, ward councillor for Woodhall Spa and a fellow Conservative.

He has been strongly tipped for the post, but Coun Stephenson stressed everything would hinge on the make-up of the council after the May 7 election.

She played down the threat posed by UKIP to the Tory’s ruling majority.