New Council leaders unveil priorities for the district.

Date published: 04 November 2020
Cllr Owen Bierley and Cllr Paul Howitt-Cowan

As a second national lockdown gets under way, the newly elected leader and deputy leader of West Lindsey District Council outline how they are looking to support our communities.

West Lindsey District Council recently announced it had elected a new leadership team at a virtual Council meeting.

Cllr Owen Bierley who has served as a Councillor for more than 17 years was appointed as the new Leader of the Council. He will be joined by Cllr Paul Howitt-Cowan, who has been elected as the new Deputy Leader.

Cllr Bierley says his first priority is to ‘support residents, businesses and community organisations as much as possible during the upcoming national lockdown’.

He said: “If anyone is struggling during the upcoming four-week lockdown, I urge them to come forward for help, even if it’s just for a reassurance chat. Both I and the council are on your side – and I hope that that is the main message I can get across while I am leader.”

Cllr Bierley is known for getting involved in the local community sports groups, lunch clubs and senior citizens parties, although the latter two groups are currently suspended due to Covid-19.

“That worries me as so many people, of all ages, attended those groups, and now many of them will be at home, and I worry for their wellbeing,” explained Cllr Bierley.

He added: “For some, the Tuesday Lunch Club was the highlight of their week – it is this involvement with the local community that drives me in my role as a councillor, and now as leader. Being the new leader might be a little daunting and it might be a steep learning curve, but it is a tremendous opportunity to support communities all over the district.”

The Leader believes that ‘togetherness and inclusiveness’ are the most powerful ways to reach high standards. He hopes to inspire and maintain the confidence in the Council as a collective and believes ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘communicating effectively’ will be the key to this.

Cllr Bierley has really embraced his new role. He said: “Becoming leader came totally out of the blue – it wasn’t expected or sought after at all. However, I just want to be as involved with everything as possible and so I am more than happy to take up the reins from the previous leader who stepped down from his position.

“I am a passionate believer in the way every councillor in West Lindsey has an equal say on policy. We have no portfolio holders here, and I believe this means all councillors can engage on all topics and policy.”

Cllr Bierley aims to maintain stability of council services as well as looking to improve and strengthen communities, health and wellbeing, culture, leisure and sport, housing and rural communities, and the environment. He is delighted to be working alongside the new Deputy Leader of the Council who shares ‘similar philosophies.’

Cllr Howitt-Cowan is passionate about engaging with communities and helping the environment and has served on the Council for more than 10 years.

He said: “I always consider myself a Community Councillor trying to serve the best interest of my constituents, and now I have been given a much wider brief as Deputy Leader of West Lindsey District Council.

“I am committed to neighbourhood plans which provide a unique opportunity for communities to shape their villages. I am also involved in lots of community work and chair the directors of Gainsborough House, which works on projects such as Community Wheels, Disability Network and throughout lockdown, it was a distribution centre for thousands of food parcels.

“I care passionately about the environment and will advocate always for people to take care of the world around them; I hate fly tipping and I truly admire little pickers!

“When I was first elected I wondered what I had taken on, but it has opened up a wonderful experience and I have met brilliant people I wouldn’t have otherwise known. One thing I have learnt is that people do indeed matter, communities matter and it has been and continues to be, a huge privilege to serve.”

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