Westminster Council leadership race candidates announced

Three contenders confirmed in the leadership race with one week to go until the election

The race to become the next Westminster Council leader is down to three after the candidates were officially announced this morning.

Cllr Ed Argar, Cllr Philippa Roe and Cllr Glenys Roberts are the remaining candidates vying to replace outgoing leader Cllr Colin Barrow who announced his intention to stand down last month.

The trio now have a week to gain the support of their fellow Conservative councillors before an election next Wednesday February 29.

Cllr Argar and Cllr Roe have been frontrunners for the role since the vacancy arose and Cllr Argar was installed as the early bookmakers’ favourite.

The 34-year-old cabinet member for city management is seen by some colleagues as an opportunity to provide a new direction for the council.

A graduate of modern history at Oxford University, Cllr Argar worked as a political adviser and speechwriter for Michael Ancram MP between 2001 and 2005 before leaving to pursue a career in management consultancy.

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He was elected to the council in 2006 and contested the Oxford East seat at the 2010 general election where he finished third.

Cllr Roe, 49, is cabinet member for strategic finance having previously held the housing portfolio.

She left her role as director of financial services firm Citigroup when she gave birth to twins and decided that a City career was incompatible with being a mother. Cllr Roe was also elected onto the council in 2006.

Cllr Roberts is the only backbencher to stand for the leadership role and is the outsider of the three candidates.

A features writer on the Daily Mail, Cllr Roberts was the only Conservative Westminster candidate who publically opposed the ill-fated evening and weekend parking charge scheme.

She is the most experienced of the trio having been elected to the council in the West End ward in 1999 although she does not hold a cabinet portfolio.

Other names who had been mentioned as possible contenders included Cllr Jonathan Glanz, Cllr Melvyn Caplan and Cllr Brian Connell but all decided not to compete in the leadership race.