Cllr Andreas Kirsch (Chessington South ward) has been elected by the Liberal Democrat Group on Kingston Council to serve as Leader of the Council.
The internal election took place after Cllr Caroline Kerr announced that she intended to step down from the role last week. A formal handover between Cllr Kerr and Cllr Kirsch will be arranged in the week ahead.
In a statement, Cllr Andreas Kirsch said, “The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames has always been an open, welcoming, inclusive and diverse place to live, work and socialise, and I’m proud to have been elected to lead our Council on the next step of its journey.
“I want to thank the Liberal Democrat Group on Kingston Council for putting their faith in me, and also to Cllr Caroline Kerr for her service over the past few years. The last 18-months have been difficult for so many in our Borough, but I’m proud of how Cllr Kerr led us through what was hopefully the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As we start to rebuild from the past couple of years, Liberal Democrats have started to showcase exciting plans that invest in our communities. From building the first new social housing in a generation, to providing residents with services they deserve such as a new Leisure Centre for Kingston that people can enjoy for decades to come.
“But our Borough faces continued challenges, such as protecting and enhancing our green spaces and helping to tackle the climate emergency. I’m proud that Lib Dem-run Kingston Council has improved and upgraded many local parks for residents to enjoy, planted over 2,000 new trees borough-wide and worked to improve biodiversity on our doorstep, and installed electric vehicle charging points too.
“We’ve also stood up against the Conservative Government’s disastrous planning reforms that would allow developers to build whatever they like, wherever they like across our Borough, and more recently led the fight against the Government and South Western Railway’s proposed cuts to our vital local rail services.
“Liberal Democrats have not only saved Kingston Council from Tory bankruptcy when we took back control in 2018, but we’ve truly invested in our Borough, thanks to the leadership of Cllr Kerr and Cllr Green. Instead of luxuries for the Council, we’re proud to prioritise services for residents, and will continue to do so.
“I am excited to take on this role as Leader of Kingston Council, to build a better, more inclusive Borough, and continue delivering for residents from Chessington to Coombe, from Malden Rushett to Motspur Park, and from Tudor to Tolworth.”
Cllr Caroline Kerr, former Leader of Kingston Council, said, “I’m very excited to see Cllr Andreas Kirsch elected as our new Leader, and give him my complete support. I will continue to work closely with him so we can continue to deliver for local residents in Canbury ward and across the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.”
Ed Davey, Lib Dem MP for Kingston & Surbiton, said, “Cllr Andreas Kirsch has already proved himself in charge of the Borough’s budget, helping the council to recover from the financial mismanagement of the last Conservative council. So I am looking forward to working with Andreas to deliver for all the Borough’s residents, from Chessington to New Malden.
“With Government Ministers and London’s Mayor forcing more development on Kingston than is necessary, I will continue to campaign with our new Council Leader, against this unfair interference in our Borough.”
Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, said, “Cllr Andreas Kirsch will be a great Leader of Kingston Council, and I’m sure that he will continue the great work of Cllr Kerr. Only the Kingston Lib Dems have a positive vision for the future of our Borough and Cllr Kirsch has my full support.”