Uttlesford District Council seeks to adopt first female leader as Residents Administration undertakes mid-term reshuffle

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is undertaking a significant portfolio team reshuffle at Uttlesford District Council to synchronise with the appointment of the council’s new Chief Executive, with Deputy Leader Petrina Lees intending to become the council’s first female leader.

Current Uttlesford District Council Leader, R4U’s Cllr John Lodge, said “We were elected to take UDC over from the Conservatives for two reasons – to fix longstanding issues at the council – and to build a more resident-focussed Uttlesford for the future. We have substantially delivered the first, which is what I came to do.”

John Lodge (R4U) John Lodge (R4U)

Cllr Lodge continued “We’ve made strides towards our second goal, but there is still much work. We hired a new UDC Chief Executive, Peter Holt, who is now in place. With some of our councillors, including myself, retiring at the next election, it is right and proper that we also make changes in conjunction with his appointment. After a party selection process, Deputy Leader Petrina Lees intends to take over the reins as Council Leader. She and I have worked to reshuffle the portfolios. Equality is important to R4U, so I’m also excited that she’s been selected to be UDC’s first female leader.”

Petrina Lees (R4U) Petrina Lees (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Petrina Lees, Deputy Council Leader, said “Fixing the inherited issues at the council has been a huge job, and John has been outstanding in his guidance – and recently driving the selection of the excellent new Chief Executive. The team and I thank John and our other hardworking colleagues who are handing over their portfolios. The reshuffle will result in more than a dozen changes across portfolios, committees, working groups and liaison roles.”

Neil Hargreaves (R4U) Neil Hargreaves (R4U)

Cllr Lees concluded “Our councillors at UDC have selected Neil Hargreaves to pick up the responsibilities of Deputy Leader. As part of broader changes Maggie Sutton is moving to Communities and Residents; and at the end of the council year Arthur Coote, who is currently UDC Chair, will lead the Housing portfolio. There will be a reduction of two portfolios – Education and Transport. These are ECC responsibilities, so now there are Residents’ county councillors, they will pick up these important liaison roles. The other related responsibilities of these areas will now fall under the Planning portfolio, which is led by John Evans. The transition process is underway and our new portfolio holders are excited to get started.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U took majority control of UDC by gaining two-thirds of the seats. Since then it has set about re-engineering the now award-winning council operates, rebuilding the finances and fixing how planning is done. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.