South Ribble set for another leadership challenge

Margaret Smith could be back in charge at South Ribble - after a two-year hiatus.
Margaret Smith could be back in charge at South Ribble - after a two-year hiatus.
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South Ribble Borough Council could get its third leader in as many weeks tonight, as members decide whether to re-elect former leader Margaret Smith to the top job.

The Conservative-majority council has been controlled by a Labour cabinet since mid-October, after Mary Green stepped down - before a vote of no confidence in her was debated.

READ MORE >>> Conservative council elects Labour leader - a strange night in South Ribble

But a third of Conservative members were absent from the meeting to appoint her successor, allowing Labour to take control of the authority after getting support from the Liberal Democrats.

READ MORE >>> South Ribble leader resigns ahead of no confidence vote

The motion to be debated tonight states: "Since the Conservative group hold the majority of seats on the Council, it is asserted that the administration of the council should be formed wholly of Conservative members."

It then calls for the removal of the leader for the last fortnight, Labour's Paul Foster, and the appointment of Margaret Smith in his place.

Cllr Smith was leader in South Ribble for nine years until July 2016, when she resigned on health grounds. She was in charge at the time the authority was rocked by revelations about the operation of its licensing department.

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The Conservative group has a majority of four on the 50-member council.

An extraordinary meeting to debate the appointment of a new leader will take place at 6pm at The Civic Centre in Leyland.