AFTER a botched attempt to elect a new leader on Portsmouth City Council, the Conservatives have declared Cllr Simon Bosher as their new number one.
The news follows a recount of votes, after a mix-up at the ballot for Tory councillors which led to the announcement that Cllr Bosher’s rival, Cllr Steve Weymss, would continue as the group’s leader.
It was originally thought Cllr Weymss had won the vote eight votes to seven, but a letter signed by five Tories called for a recount.
The second count revealed Cllr Bosher had in fact won the ballot eight votes to seven.
Cllr Alistair Thompson, who was in charge of the vote alongside Cllr Mike Park, said: ‘I don’t know what went wrong with the vote but it looks like it was a mistake which has been rectified now and that’s the important thing.
‘It’s not that there was a massive split or a fight within the group, it was just a mistake, and I am pleased that it has been sorted out quickly and efficiently.
‘We were very lucky to have two talented people wanting to lead the party and still have a great leader who I back 100 per cent.’
Cllr Bosher put himself forward to take over as Tory leader following last Thursday’s city council election.
He and his supporters felt Cllr Wemyss’ leadership should end after the group failed to capitalise on a national slump in Lib Dem popularity and take over the council.
Instead, the Lib Dem group won nine seats – its highest ever total at one election.
The Tories won the Copnor ward, increasing their seats on the council from 16 to 17, but still behind the Lib Dems’ total of 23.
Cllr Bosher said: ‘I’m delighted to be the new leader and have already spoken to council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson about how I see the party moving forward in the future.
‘We will support everything that we think is right and anything we think needs to be amended, we will work together with other council members to change it to ensure it benefits the city.
‘I’m not going to get bogged down with party politics. Being born and having grown up in Portsmouth, my main focus is what’s best for the city and its people.
‘Cllr Weymss and myself have had a long discussion about the future of the group and we will continue to work very closely as we always have done.’
As The News went to press, Cllr Weymss was unavailable for comment.
Cllr Donna Jones, who was announced as the group’s deputy leader yesterday, said: ‘I fully support Cllr Simon Bosher as the new leader and look forward to the direction he will lead us.
‘It is my job to support him as the party grows and make sure the political radar is up to date.’