IN a first for Tameside, the Conservative group on Tameside Council has elected two women to lead the party at its annual meeting.
Cllr Doreen Dickinson (Stalybridge South) won the backing of the group to replace recently retired long-serving leader John Bell in a unanimous vote. Cllr Ruth Welsh (Hyde Werneth) was selected by Doreen to act as her deputy.
Cllr Dickinson was first elected in 1992 to represent Stalybridge South. She broke down the barriers to become the first female leader of a political group on Tameside Council from 1995 to 1996 where she stood as leader of the opposition to Roy Oldham’s Labour Party.
Cllr Welsh was first elected to represent Hyde Werneth in 2004. She lost her seat in 2014 but gained it from Labour in 2016.
Cllr Dickinson said: “I am very proud that on former Cllr Bell’s retirement to have been voted in as leader of the Conservative group on Tameside Council.
“Although there are only five Conservatives on the council to Labour’s 51, I am hoping that we do a good job of holding the Labour Party to account in Tameside.
“After 40 years of Labour control in Tameside and, if you believe in what the Labour Party say, then we should live in the most perfect borough when we most certainly don’t! And I hope that although few in numbers, we can alter that and change Tameside for the better.
“It does not make for good debate and good council when a party, whichever one it is, has such vast majority for such a long time.”
Cllr Dickinson admitted Cllr Bell will be a “hard act to follow” adding her style will be different as she bids to move the party forward in Tameside.
“Hopefully we can gain more seats next year, but you cannot say that for certainty in the light of the political situation nationally,” she explained.
Cllr Liam Billington (Stalybridge South) was selected to act as group secretary handling press and communications to the opposition. He was elected in 2018.