KEVIN Bentley is set to be elected leader of Essex County Council after the Conservatives maintained their hold on County Hall.

Stanway and Pyefleet councillor Kevin Bentley was installed as the new leader of the Conservative Group at a meeting today.

Brentwood Hutton councillor Louise McKinlay was elected new deputy leader.

Mr Bentley will take up the position at County Hall after former leader David Finch announced he would not be seeking re-election.

Mr Finch had been a member of Essex County Council for nearly 20 years, since being first elected in 2001, and has led the authority for the past eight years.

Gazette: Former leader: David Finch had led the authority for eight yearsFormer leader: David Finch had led the authority for eight years

The recent elections confirmed the Conservatives as the controlling party after winning 52 of the 75 seats up for grabs.

Mr Bentley, said: “I'm honoured and privileged to have been elected as leader of the Conservatives at County Hall and the trust that my group has put in me and the trust the people have put into us as Conservatives to continue our work.

"Essex is such a great county with so many opportunities and we want to reflect those in our plan and vision which will revolve around renewal as we come out of the pandemic and rebuild our economy, equality where everyone is included, and no-one left behind and ambition which will see Essex as the place people aspire to live and work and create jobs and prosperity.”

Mrs McKinlay, said: “I am delighted to have been elected as deputy leader of the Conservative Group and look forward to working with Kevin as we move forward with an ambitious plan for the next four years.

"Creating the conditions for the development of new, high quality jobs in Essex, ensuring people of all ages have the right skills for what will be our growing economy, continuing our work to care for older and vulnerable people and working to support communities, families, individuals will be at the heart of what we do.”

The pair are now expected to be formally elected as leader and deputy leader at the Council’s Annual meeting on May 25.