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Cllr Jill Cleary elected as Leader of New Forest Council


Cllr Jill Cleary has been elected as the Leader of New Forest District Council (NFDC) at the Council meeting of 14 November 2022, saying “My ultimate aspiration is to see NFDC thrive and be able to continue, in these challenging times, to offer excellent frontline services our residents want to see.

“Housing will always be a passion of mine and my commitment to making a difference when we are most needed is what motivates me as a councillor. I am excited to be able to take my drive for housing services and apply that to the bigger remit I now have as Leader. My focus is rooted in local communities, solving problems and being forward thinking. I want my cabinet to have that approach across all council services.

“Keeping our district a vibrant and special place is not something we can or should do alone. I will work with our towns and parishes, the county council, partners, businesses, voluntary sector organisations and local groups. If everyone is at the table we can get the job done with far better results than working alone.

“I will build on the work underway to ensure that NFDC is listening to what people want and need and I have already started asking councillors to take me around their wards so I can understand all the different areas. We are undertaking a residents survey and my commitment is that we will be open to what communities tell us. I will encourage the whole organisation to be a listening organisation, to hear what matters to people.


“The challenges we face are significant, including the cost of living and responding to the climate and nature emergency, but I will champion our work together to find those innovative approaches that will mean we are able to change people’s lives for the better whilst protecting and enhancing our amazing New Forest.”


Cllr Cleary confirmed her Cabinet will remain as currently, with the exception that the housing portfolio will move to Cllr Edward Heron.

Cllr Diane Andrews is the new Deputy Leader.

At the Council meeting Cllr Cleary said, “I would like to thank the Council for their support in electing me the new Leader. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Cllr Edward Heron for his service and achievements as the previous leader. He has championed us being a more responsive council with a commitment to improving communications, and he has worked to ensure that as a council we have more influence on regional matters, always with the benefit of our local residents in mind. He has worked tirelessly to bring the Solent Freeport this far and I have asked him to continue with this really important task until May 2023.


“I would like to thank the Cabinet for their dedication and the role that they have working as a team to lead this council in making significant progress with the corporate plan and maintaining the focus on delivery and moving forward. Therefore, I do not want to make huge changes to the Cabinet and I have huge pleasure in announcing Cllr Diane Andrews will be my deputy, Cllr Edward Heron will now be responsible for the housing services portfolio, cllrs Steve Davies, David Russell, Michael Harris, Jeremy Heron, Geoff Blunden will remain my cabinet.”

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