New leader Matthew to Lock horns with Labour

Cllr Matthew Lock
Cllr Matthew Lock

COUNCIL meetings look set to be a little livelier over the coming months after the Conservative party named Matthew Lock as its new leader.

The outspoken St Helens Ward councillor takes over the reigns from Cllr Peter Pragnell, who announced his decision to step down in the Observer earlier this month.

And speaking shortly after getting the backing of his party, Cllr Lock promised to let rip on his Labour rivals.

He criticised his Labour counterpart, Cllr Jeremy Birch, for not being positive enough about the town.

“I am looking forward to locking horns with Cllr Birch,” he said. “It is about time the council started talking Hastings up.

“The library is having a multi-million pound makeover; Jerwood will open later this year; we have a successful pier bid and Saga has moved to Hastings.

“Listening to Cllr Birch at his cabinet meetings you would think the world was coming to an end.

“My cup is half full - clearly Jeremy needs a top-up.”

Cllr Lock, who was first elected in 1999, also paid tribute to his predecessor. He said: “I would like to acknowledge the six years of leadership by Cllr Pragnell, recognizing the diplomatic way he has run the Conservative group and his four years as leader of Hastings Borough Council. I wish him every success in his new political roles.”

However, he did say his leadership would bring with it a definite change in tactics.

“I think it is fair to say my style and Peter’s are very different,” he said.

“Meetings will certainly be livelier and I intend to fully challenge the council where necessary.” Cllr Matthew Beaver will remain the Tory’s deputy leader, after he defeated Cllr Rob Cooke at the party’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.