The new Conservative leader of Herefordshire Council Jonathan Lester has set out his priorities for the county and named the cabinet, all bar one of whom are Tories, who will put it into practice.

Following Coun Lester’s election by a minority of fellow councillors last Friday (May 24), he said he would focus on “making sure the budget is balanced, the potholes are addressed, children’s services are improved, and putting the western bypass [around Hereford] back on the agenda”.

On this last he said: “It’s always been a necessary plan, though no one is saying it will be built in four years.”

This would emerge via the county’s core strategy, its key planning document which is currently being revised, he said, adding: “It has to be sewn into the forward plan for Herefordshire. But In the short term it also depends on government funding.”


The masterplan for Herefordshire, which is currently undergoing a public consultation, would also need to be “looked at again” in light of this, he said.

“There are some good things in it. It’s vital we first understand what the public have said they want.”


On this and many other topics, “there will be a pause to re-evaluate what the previous administration did”, he said.

With only one non-Conservative, his newly appointed cabinet includes several new faces elected on May 4, when the party surprised many by winning 21 out the 53 seats on the council.

They are in full:

  • Leader of the council (including corporate strategy and budget): Jonathan Lester
  • Deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for environment: Elissa Swinglehurst
  • Cabinet member for finance and corporate services: Peter Stoddart
  • Cabinet member for roads and regulatory services: Barry Durkin
  • Cabinet member for economy and growth: Graham Biggs
  • Cabinet member for children’s services: Ivan Powell
  • Cabinet member for adults, health and wellbeing: Carol Gandy
  • Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure: Phillip Price
  • Cabinet member for community services and assets: Harry Bramer
  • Cabinet support to leader and deputy leader: Nick Mason, Dan Hurcomb

The appointments represent a rejigging of responsibilities from the previous Independents for Herefordshire / Greens cabinet, with economy and environment is no longer under a single cabinet member.

“These are each so important that they each need their own head,” Coun Lester said.

The non-Conservative is former county police chief Ivan Powell, newly elected for the True Independents, who will head the council’s troubled children’s services department.

His appointment “shows that where necessary the Conservative group will put party politics aside in the interests of what is best for Herefordshire and its residents”, Coun Lester said.

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