Former Brentwood borough leader to step down from council

The former leader of Brentwood Borough Council is to step down from the council after 16 years.

Councillor Louise McKinlay, who has represented Hutton North since 2004, will not stand for the seat when it next comes up for election in May next year.

Instead she is focusing on her new role as cabinet member for children and families at Essex County Council  (ECC)– a position she has held since the beginning of this year.

She had previously been portfolio holder for finance, which she was given after she was first elected a county councillor in 2017.

She said: “I will have done 16 years by the time I step down.

“My new role at ECC requires me travelling about much more which was very different to my old finance job.

“That was very much centred at County Hall.

“So when I took it on in May I always said I would see how things panned out and where the focus and my time will be needed to be over the next few years.

“It’s the right time to step down from Brentwood and focus on the county council.”

Cllr McKinlay’s tenure has been through some turbulent moments – not least when in in June 2011 a large Tory rebellion voted down her plans to demolish the Town Hall in favour of a plan to remodel it with residential flats.

Cllr McKinlay, who was raised in Brentwood, took over as leader of the Tory group after her predecessor Brandon Lewis stepped down to concentrate on fighting his Great Yarmouth parliametary seat, which he won in the 2010 general election.

She has remained in charge for all but one year – in 2014 the council was administered by the Accord – a mix of independent, Lib Dem, Labour and Brentwood First councillors.

She said: “I have felt doing the role really fulfilling. It came at a time which was very challenging generally for local government.

“But if I look at all we have done and the way in which the council has responded to those pressures and what we have done for Brentwood, I am proud of what we have achieved.

“At a time when councils were cutting services we increased services – the family fun days, neighbourhood action teams, more street cleaning  and the Town Hall.

“That was an issue that had been languishing for some time so to leave as it comes to fruition I am really pleased about that.

“Also we have done a lot of work on the Local Development Plan and the business showcase.

“There have been some difficult times as well.

“But it is about remembering what you do and building a really good team around you, and when the going gets tough, seeing it out, holding fast and making sure you are clear about what you do.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter