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Maidstone council leader Cllr Chris Garland has stepped down

By Angela Cole

Maidstone council leader, Cllr Chris Garland, has stepped down.

Cllr Garland announced the move, after six years at the top, to the Maidstone and the Weald Conservative Association in a letter over the weekend.

Although he made the announcement after the election results on Thursday evening when the Conservatives lost overall control of the council after a surge by UKIP, it is understood he had made the decision beforehand.

Cllr Chris Garland
Cllr Chris Garland

New work commitments in his field of mortgage brokering and accountancy meant he felt he could not continue his leadership, but will continue as a councillor, moving to the backbenches.

His deputy, Cllr Malcolm Greer, is now acting leader, with the role up for selection at the Conservative Association's meeting on Friday.

Cllr Greer said: "I think he realised you cannot rely on the electorate to give you a job year on year. The timing is OK as far as I'm concerned - there is an AGM coming up and that is the time to decide on a new leader. I don't think it had any relation to the election."

Twenty seats were contested in 18 wards with UKIP taking four seats, all from the Conservatives.

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