New-look Tory administration at Mid Sussex District Council

Jonathan Ash-Edwards, new leader of Mid Sussex District Council
Jonathan Ash-Edwards, new leader of Mid Sussex District Council

A few important things were learned at the first full meeting of the new-look Mid Sussex District Council.

First – and unsurprisingly – the new leader was Jonathan Ash-Edwards (Con, Lindfield).

Second, the new chairman was Colin Trumble (Con, Hurstpierpoint & Downs); and third, as Mr Trumble made abundantly clear, all male councillors were required to wear their jackets when attending meetings.

The meeting was the first since the Conservative domination of the council was torn to shreds.

While still in overall control with 34 seats, Tory councillors now share the chamber with 13 Liberal Democrats, four independents and three Greens.

Mr Trumble replaced Bruce Forbes, who was one of the election casualties, losing his Crawley Down & Turners Hill seat.

Addressing his new and established colleagues, he said: “This is going to be an interesting council and I am sure we are all conscious that we’re here for the good of our community.”

Mr Ash-Edwards said: “The elections clearly delivered a different political composition in this council but also a clear way forward.”

Congratulating all members on their election success, he added: “It is a privilege to serve your community. It’s a privilege to serve the entire district, and I am sure it is one you will enjoy and treat with the utmost sincerity.

“My number one priority as leader is to ensure that we deliver the manifesto commitments that we made to the people of Mid Sussex.

“Supporting a strong local economy, fighting for infrastructure, protecting our precious environment and improving the quality of life that means so much to people here in Mid Sussex.

“This council has clear plans in place to deliver against all of those objectives.”

Mr Ash-Edwards named Judy Llewellyn-Burke as his deputy, saying she would also take responsibility for the Burgess Hill growth area.

Five cabinet members were named – Stephen Hillier (economic growth), Ruth de Mierre (customer services), John Belsey (environment & service delivery), Norman Webster (community), and Andrew MacNaughton (housing & planning).