Liberal Democrat councillor Caroline Kerr announced on Monday night that she was resigning as leader of Kingston Council after 18 months in the job.
Kerr said she would step down as soon as a new leader had been chosen.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am resigning as leader of Kingston Council. It has been a huge honour to lead the Royal Borough and this is not a decision I have taken lightly,” she said.
Her resignation comes only 18 months after she ousted her predecessor, Liz Green, from the leader’s chair.
The timing of that leadership change sparked controversy among Kingston councillors and residents as it happened just before the country was entering a national lockdown due to Covid-19.
After 18 months in the position and having battled with the struggles of the pandemic, Kerr said: “We have supported Kingston residents and our local NHS through the pandemic.
“I was able to draw on my professional experience of helping organisations deal with crisis to support the council through the pandemic.
“Although Covid is still a threat, the worst of the emergency appears to be over and I feel it is time now for new leadership.”
Opposing councillor and Green Party member Sharron Sumner tweeted in response to Kerr’s resignation, hoping that the council could move forward “in a more inclusive way.”
“She’s recognised her leadership isn’t working and has stepped down to stop things getting any worse,” said Sumner.
Former Mayor of Kingston councillor Margaret Thompson said: “Caroline Kerr has led the Liberal Democrat group during the most challenging period the council has ever had to face, using her skills of crisis management and forward thinking to ensure that the residents of Kingston were as well supported as possible during the pandemic.”
As leader, Kerr pushed for construction of new council homes and the investment of two new leisure centres aimed to serve Kingston residents for at least the next 50 years.