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Conservatives pick Annabelle Blackmore to replace Chris Garland as leader in Maidstone

By Alan Smith

Cllr Annabelle Blackmore is the new leader of the Conservative group on Maidstone Borough Council.

She was elected to the post by her fellow Conservative councillors at a party meeting on Friday.

Cllr Blackmore is something of a surprise choice as she was not one of the senior cabinet members of her predecessor Chris Garland, who resigned as leader following the local elections on May 22.

Council leader Annabelle Blackmore
Council leader Annabelle Blackmore

Cllr Blackmore has represented Marden and Yalding since 2003.

Her initial arrival on the political scene was mired with controversy when she unexpectedly moved to Bermuda just three weeks after being elected, to accompany her husband, a financial consultant, on a temporary work posting.

She resisted calls for her to resign, saying she could deal with her constituents’ inquiries by email.

After her return to England, she has worked steadily from the back-benches. She is currently chairman of the community, leisure services, environment and overview scrutiny committee, a member of the Joint Transport Board and a member of the scrutiny co-ordinating committee.

Since February 2008, she has attended 129 of the 145 meetings where her presence was expected, an average attendance rate of 89%.

She lives at Poplar Tree Farm, in Milebush Lane, Marden.

Her party colleague, Cllr Stephen Paine, said: “Annabelle has proved herself, doing good work on the scrutiny committees. She will make a good leader.”

Whether Cllr Blackmore will also become the new leader of Maidstone council will depend on a vote by the full council meeting on Saturday.

Following the recent election of four UKIP councillors, the Conservative group no longer has an overall majority.

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