Marion Brighton has today (Tuesday) stepped down as Leader of North Kesteven District Council, due to ill health, after more than 16 years at the helm of the authority.
She also steps down from leadership of the Conservative Group at North Kesteven.
The resignation is effective following this Thursday, March 9’s meeting of the Council when members will sign off the Council Tax billing for North Kesteven on behalf of all precepting authorities.
Coun Brighton had hinted to The Standard two years ago at the last district council local elections that she may well step down during this term once things had settled down with a clear plan for the future.
First elected in 1973 - in order to shape the emerging district council which came into existence the following year after the reorganisation of local government – Coun Brighton has devoted more than half her life to the service of local residents and businesses and the running of the council.
She has led the council to a position of strong emphasis on social housing, leisure, arts and culture and economic development. It also has a strong financial grounding and future investment programme.
Coun Brighton was awarded the Local Government Information Unit’s Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2016 and has also been awarded an OBE.
She has successfully defended 12 elections, enjoyed 16 years of continuous leadership and been chairman of the council twice, spanning a total of six years.
In that time she has pioneeed a range of initiatives and partnerships: being one of the first to champion wheeled bins; a new era of council house building; significant leisure investment when others were cutting back; a vast community arts outreach; and shaping and leading on a number of national policy initiatives for the benefit of rural areas.
Along the way she has earned significant respect and admiration on national tourism bodies and regional agencies and colleagues from other councils speak of her ‘outstanding contribution to local government over many years’, her ‘lifetime determination to do the best for her community’ and ‘sincere commitment to the North Kesteven area’.
In her nomination for the Lifetime Achievement Award, they reflected on her ‘guidance’, her determination ‘to provide the best service of any Lincolnshire authority to its taxpayers’, her ‘vision, relentless resolve and advocacy, delivered with good grace and clarity’.
Coun Brighton said she owed the council a huge debt of gratitude for providing a focus in her life following her husband Brian’s death in 1982.
“My husband thought it would be a nice little interest for me to be on the council, and how right he was. The more I have got into it, the more interesting it becomes; and that is still the case today as we respond to fresh challenges and seek to meet resident needs.
“One of our strengths as a council is that we’re not driven by politics; and another is that we have some excellent long-serving members and officers who can draw on the past to inspire and innovate services for the future and support strong, resilient, flourishing communities.”
The council will meet to elect a new Leader in the coming weeks.