New council leader says it's 'business as normal' as he takes over from Ray Oxby

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 13 Mar 2019

The new leader of the North East Lincolnshire Council says it will be "business as normal" as it looks to build on the "good work" started by his predecessor.

Immingham Labour councillor Dave Watson has taken over as leader of the council following the shock resignation of Ray Oxby on Monday.

Speaking to Grimsby Live, he said that it will be "business as normal" at the local authority, as the Labour Party will continue to work alongside the Liberal Democrats in their confidence and supply agreement.

Admitting that there will be challenges ahead, councillor Watson, believes that the strength of his team in the council's cabinet will ensure that the aspirational projects started under Mr Oxby such as the GrimsbyTown Deal, Cleethorpes Regeneration and the SHIIP Programme continue unhindered.

Ray Oxby alongside Dave Watson at a council Cabinet meeting (Image: Jon Corken)

He said: "Running any local authority administration will always produce challenges, but we have a very good working relationship with the Liberal Democrats and I am sure this will continue and it will be business as normal until the AGM later this year.

"With regards to the projects started under Ray, I and the rest of the cabinet have been involved in all of the decision making, and if one of us is not available, another is able to pick up the work. I have a very good cabinet around me at the moment.

"Ray started a lot of good work in the area, which myself and fellow cabinet member Peter Wheatley, will ensure continues as we try to do our best for North East Lincolnshire."

When asked whether or not he felt that Mr Oxby's resignation will have an adverse effect on his party in the upcoming local elections, he said that it was "too soon to say" but "the electorate would ultimately decide".

Council Leader councillor Ray Oxby, resigned from his position and the Labour Party on Monday (Image: Jon Corken/GrimsbyLive)

Mr Oxby, who represented Grimsby's South ward, announced his resignation from the role and the Labour Party, at 3pm on Monday, citing ill-health and personal abuse that he received over the Toll Bar roundabout decision, as his reasons.

In a statement he said: “For a considerable amount of time, I have faced challenges to my health brought on by pressures as Leader of the Council.

"These pressures have arisen from the difficult decisions the Council has been forced to take due to cuts by Central Government on Local Government funding.

"More recently, however, the pressures have been significantly exacerbated by the verbal abuse I have received personally and via social media. This abuse has gone beyond fair political comment.

The new Leader of the Council, Councillor David Watson, says that there will be challenges ahead, but is confident that he will be able to pick-up where Ray Oxby left off (Image: Jon Corken/GrimsbyLive)

"My vehicle has been vandalised, and unpleasant (an understatement) contents have been pushed through my letterbox.

"Much of this has been linked to the decision on Toll Bar roundabout and has gone beyond what any reasonable person should endure. 

"In addition, our family has been blessed in the past few years with three beautiful grandchildren and I am determined to ensure that my health is robust enough for my wife and I to help nurture their development and enjoy their growing up.

"It has been a privilege to serve the Council and the communities of the South Ward and I hope that, in my small way, I have given benefit and service to this area.

"I have always acted with the interests of the people of this area at heart."

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