Girl power rules at Cheshire West and Chester Council after the Tory opposition elected women as both their new leader and deputy leader.
Long-standing Tory group leader Cllr Mike Jones and his deputy Eveleigh Moore Dutton were replaced by Cllr Lynn Riley (Frodsham) and Cllr Margaret Parker (Chester Villages) at the annual group meeting this evening.
The news comes after Cllr Jones announced at the weekend that he would not be standing amid rumours of a leadership challenge.
This move flies the flag for women as there is now a female-led Tory opposition who will take on the Labour administration steered by Cllr Samantha Dixon (Chester City) and her deputy Cllr Louise Gittins (Little Neston and Burton).
Tory Cllr Gareth Anderson (Ledsham and Manor) congratulated both colleagues on Twitter.
He wrote: “The @Go_CheshireWest Conservative group has a new leader. Huge congratulations to Cllr Lynn Riley.”
Cllr Anderson added: “The feeling in this room is remarkable. ‘We’ve never had so many rounds of applause at a caucus’ (overheard).”
And in a barbed comment aimed at the old leadership, the councillor, who was dubbed one of a ‘gang of four’ rebels under the last Tory administration, commented: “There’s no need to feel embarrassed at being a member of this group any more.”
Former Tory leader Cllr Mike Jones (Tattenhall) was last year unsuccessfully challenged by Cllr Mark Stocks following the Tories’ shock defeat to Labour in the May elections who rule with a majority of just one. Insiders claim he feared he wouldn't survive a leadership challenge this time around.
But he told The Chester Blog at the weekend he needed to spend more time at work because of his busy professional life as a consultant in the technology sector.
Cllr Jones helped establish CWaC both as a shadow authority in 2008 and as a fully functioning council from 2009. He will remain a ward councillor.
The Chronicle understands his deputy Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton (Tarporley) decided not to stand for her position either.