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“It’s great to have a woman with children and a family in charge!” New City of Lincoln Council leader ‘passionate’ about area that ‘punches above our weight’… but opposition say it’s ‘more of the same’

Coun Naomi Tweddle has been appointed as the new leader of City of Lincoln Council, becoming the second woman ever to hold the position since the 80s.

During the council’s AGM on Tuesday, Coun Tweddle (Labour) was sworn in as the new leader of the controlling Labour group, succeeding former leader Ric Metcalfe, who retired after more than 42 years of public service.

The meeting also witnessed the appointment of Conservative Coun Alan Briggs as the new Mayor of the city, accompanied by Coun Bill Mara (also Conservative) as his deputy, and Brian Harding as the Sheriff.

Council leader Coun Naomi Tweddle
Council leader Coun Naomi Tweddle

After the proceedings, Coun Tweddle acknowledged the “exceptionally big boots to fill” left by her predecessor and expressed her hope to continue the great work he started, all while also being a mother of two and working a full-time job.

She said: “Ric was a fantastic leader, and I really look forward to doing half as much as he did.

“I think he has put the building blocks in place; he’s done lots of good work in terms of the Cornhill, the (Lincoln Central) car park, and the city centre, so we really want to continue that.

“We’re really ambitious for Lincoln; it punches well above its weight. We have high hopes for Lincoln and have lots more to come.”

The Labour leader, who recently gave birth to her second child in February, later underscored the importance of women, particularly women with families, holding positions of power within politics.

“I have two children, I (also) had a child when I became an executive member, and you will know that that portfolio is quite demanding.

“But it’s the modern day now; I think it’s great to have a woman with children and a family in charge. I also have a job,” she continued, pointing to her career in UNISON as the head of the case unit for East Midlands.

“I’m doing this because I’m passionate about Lincoln. I’ve got a really supportive family and husband who are all going to help make this happen. It’s not just me; there’s a whole village of people behind me.”

The representative for Minster ward also encouraged young women considering a career in politics to pursue their ambitions.

“Any young girls out there who are aspiring to go into politics and make a difference in their community, please do it because we really need strong females in this city,” she urged.

Coun Tweddle previously assumed the responsibilities of organising the city’s events programme following the cancellation of the Christmas Market, duties that will now be shouldered by Coun Joshua Wells (Labour).

While she maintained that the council currently has no plans to resurrect the Christmas Market, she noted that they are actively planning “lots of amazing events” for the future.

“There are lots of different things we can do in this amazing city,” she added.

“We do punch well above our weight and we want to make sure that this is seen not just across England but also the rest of the world.”

Outlining her top three priorities moving forward in her new position, the Labour leader shared her intention to continue with the council’s plan for inclusive growth, ensuring that everyone benefits, and to maintain the offering of events and culture seen over the last year.

Lastly, she shared her ambition to address the challenge of climate change, stating: “It’s something that has been at the forefront of the council, and I want to make sure it stays like that.”

During the morning’s AGM, Coun Chris Burke (Labour) was among those congratulating Coun Tweddle on her new position, stating that she would be a “brilliant and charismatic leader for our city.”

Not all Lincoln politicians agreed though with Labour’s choice of leader.

After losing four seats in the local elections, the Lincoln Conservatives have only five seats left on the council (one being Mayor Alan Briggs), so the group decided to take turns in opposition with the Liberal Democrats, who have made gains in the elections, but not enough to jolt Labour out of power.

Coun Clare Smalley of the Liberal Democrats said: “The Labour council can count on the support of the Liberal Democrats in any measures which make Lincoln cleaner, safer and more prosperous.

“However, we will be robustly scrutinising the performance of the Labour administration.

“The past few years has seen Lincoln Labour lose their way; from the cancellation of the Christmas Market, flytipping and graffiti becoming endemic and frontline services in tatters. Residents are fed up with Labour’s vanity projects, paying more for less and decisions being taken behind closed doors.

“Lincoln Labour’s decision to swap Ric (Coun Metcalfe) for Naomi (Coun Tweddle) is however a signal to residents of more of the same.

“After a decade of Labour mismanagement at City Hall, continuity just won’t cut it.”

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