Town hall leader will be elected this month

Westminster council leader Nickie Aiken has confirmed her successor will be chosen later this month, after she was elected as a local MP, writes Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter.

Ms Aiken won the the Cities of London and Westminster seat for the Conservatives at the December 12 general election.

Ms Aiken will remain a councillor for Warwick ward in Pimlico.

Her message explains that the next leader will be announced at a Full Council meeting at Marylebone Town Hall on January 22.

Councillors from the majority Tory party will vote for Ms Aiken’s successor. Two potential contenders include councillors  Tim Mitchell and Richard Beddoe who are both deputy leaders.

Ms Aiken’s tenure came after the council’s controversial move to cut spending on youth services in 2016, when responsibility for managing youth centres was handed to a charity, the Westminster Young Foundation. This saw the closure of youth services at the much-loved Stowe Centre in 2017.

In June 2019, Ms Aiken announced a new round of council funding for youth services, worth more than £600,000. Though this was still lower than the £2 million the council used to spend in 2010.

The borough also continues to see huge numbers of rough sleepers residing in the West End. Westminster’s rough sleeping population rose to 2,512 between 2017/18 and 2018/19, an increase of 16 per cent. However, this was down from 2,857 in 2015/16.

Ms Aiken’s said: “I am confident that the next leader of the council will take on the running of an organisation well positioned to meet the challenges and make the most of the opportunities of 2020 and beyond.

“They will lead an exceptional organisation driven by talented officers and ambitious members. Our EU residents, who have contributed to Westminster’s success, will be part of this journey.”

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