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Decision to recruit assistant for South Kesteven deputy leader criticised

Opposition district councillors have raised concerns following the appointment of a research assistant for the deputy leader, at a time when many senior staff have been made redundant.

Young Conservative activist Tom Dowse has joined South Kesteven District Council as a research assistant for deputy leader Kelham Cooke.

Independent councillor Ashley Baxter said it was “careless for SKDC to lose so many senior staff” and then it recruits for “newly invented posts at the whim of the leader and his team”.

The role was advertised on its website one week last month. Five applications were received and one person interviewed.

The job went to Tom, who is one of the country’s youngest councillors, serving almost three years on Stockport Council, near Manchester, where he chairs its economy and regeneration sub-committee.

In the 2017 general election, he also stood, aged just 20, as the Conservative Party candidate in Stalybridge and Hyde. Tory officials later said he was “going places” in the party.

An SKDC spokesman confirmed the research and support assistant will support the overall work of the team servicing councillors and part of his role will include supporting the deputy leader and his projects. They added: “The successful applicant was a strong candidate and considered suitable for the post. The council will not discuss matters personal to the successful candidate.”

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