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Regional daily journalist becomes ‘Britain’s youngest council leader’

A regional daily journalist is believed to have become Great Britain’s youngest council leader aged just 24.

Keane Duncan, who works as a reporter for the Teesside Gazette, has taken charge of Ryedale District Council, in Yorkshire.

Keane, who has sat as a Conservative member of the council since 2015, was appointed after a deal was struck between his party and independent group Ryedale First following this month’s local elections.

According to a report in the Ryedale Gazette & Herald, the Local Government Association believes Keane, pictured, is the country’s youngest local authority leader.

Keane Duncan

He told the Gazette & Herald his professional experience as a journalist and work on Ryedale’s policy committee would “serve as a good background to taking the leader’s role”.

Keane, who also sits on North Yorkshire County Council, added: “I am very keen to have the advice and guidance of all councillors. I am very keen there is a new tone at Ryedale District Council as the past four years have not been easy for the authority.

“It really is time to look forward to the future. I am keen to shake things up and make sure we do business in a much more open, transparent and collaborative manner.

“I don’t see myself as a young councillor. I am not expecting any kind of favours or different treatment. It’s important we get a cross section of different people in politics.

“It’s important councils do not become the preserve of one particular sub-section of people.”

The council, which operates under the committee system, has been run without a leader for the past two years after six senior members of the authority, including the then-leader Linda Cowling, resigned from the Conservative group after threats of suspension from the constituency party association.

The Tories won 12 seats earlier this month on the 30-seat authority, while Ryedale First won six, Liberal five, Independent five and Liberal Democrats two.

4 comments

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  • May 21, 2019 at 10:56 am
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    My concern is that there could be a conflict of interest between his work as a journalist and that as leader of the council. For better or for worse I took a conscious decision not to get too involved with organisations where they cld conflict with my role as a reporter.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 11:05 am
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    When I did my training (admittedly in a vastly more professional era), we were instructed that we were not to seek political office, party membership was frowned upon, and a colleague who was a councillor was strongly advised to resign. Irrespective of Mr Duncan’s personal ethics, such an open admission of partisanship will bring the paper’s impartiality into question. My editor would certainly have warned me against becoming a councillor in the first place, but I don’t suppose Mr Duncan has an editor in the traditional sense of the word.

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  • May 21, 2019 at 1:05 pm
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    Keane’s potentially-conflicting roles are unsettling. But I also wonder how on earth he is going to find the time to do both jobs effectively.

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