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New council leader says upcoming elections are “the great unknown”

09:00 26 January 2014

Cllr Steven Kelly

Cllr Steven Kelly

Archant

The likely new council leader going into the May elections has labelled them “the great unknown.”

Cllr Steven Kelly’s controversial reign as deputy leader

In 2012, the Tory councillor was slammed for allegedly telling off dementia sufferers for talking during a Carer’s Week event whilst he spoke.

He shocked the audience, including people with mental disabilities, by calling them the rudest, noisiest people he had ever addressed.

A carer said his comments were “totally inappropriate” but Cllr Kelly said his words were directed at policemen and charity workers.

The year before, an angry resident called him a “fat b******” at a council meeting and accused him of taking a backhand after controversial plans to build houses on a garage site in Harold Hill were passed. He denied the allegations.

And last year, when 13 councillors were deselected for the upcoming elections, Cllr Kelly, who chairs the Hornchurch and Upminster Conservatives group, distanced himself from the Romford Tories.

Cllr Steven Kelly, deputy leader for nine years, is set to be announced as the successor to Cllr Michael White at the full council meeting on Wednesday.

His role will take him up to the council elections on May 22.

However, with the Tory party currently embroiled in a civil war that has seen senior members dumped from the election, he admits he does not know how the people will vote.

“Who knows what will happen? It’s not a thing we can judge - it is the most confused situation I have ever known,” he explained.

He said his role in the coming months is to present a “unified Conservative party” and called his appointment “logical.”

“I have been deputy leader for nine years and we’ve got four months left. It would be silly to break someone else new into the job,” he said,

“On a personal level I am really pleased. It gives me a chance to prepare for whatever happens after May.”

The controversial figure said his job now is to finish off projects, before hopefully returning after the votes have been cast.

“I am very excited,” he confessed, “The next challenge is to come back as the biggest party and make the borough tick again.”

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