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Stamford and Grantham Conservative Association re-elects Kelham Cooke following leadership challenge

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South Kesteven District Council leader Kelham Cooke has won a leadership challenge to stay in position.

Coun Cooke faced a challenge from fellow Tory Councillor Graham Jeal at a meeting of the Conservative Group last night (Monday) and took the vote.

Following the meeting Councillor Cooke, who represents Casewick, said he was “honoured” by the result.

Coun Kelham Cooke
Coun Kelham Cooke

“Over the last three years we have achieved so much and I’m looking forward to the next 12 months in the build up to the elections,” he said.

“Thank you for your support.”

South Kesteven District Council will confirm Coun Cooke’s re-election as leader on Thursday when it holds its annual general meeting.

Sources close to the council said Coun Jeal, for Grantham St Vincent's, had “the support of a majority of councillors,” but several were away or too ill to attend.

The sources added Coun Jeal’s side was focusing on policy and next year’s elections, arguing the leadership was “lacking direction”.

Some feared that without change the Tories will lose control of the council.

However, Coun Cooke’s supporters focused instead on personality, arguing his removal would “destroy a young man’s career when he inherited problems left by [previous leader] Coun Lee”.

Coun Graham Jeal
Coun Graham Jeal

They believed the Independents are too fractured to take control next year.

Coun Cooke was elected to SKDC in 2015 and took over from Coun Matthew Lee as leader of the authority in 2019 seeing off competition from then Coun Bob Adams.

Coun Cooke was also elected to Lincolnshire County Council in 2021.

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