Tories choose prospective new council leader - The Rugby Observer
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Tories choose prospective new council leader

Rugby Editorial 10th Sep, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

COUNCILLOR Michael Stokes is set to be the new boss of Rugby Borough Council after he was elected as the Conservative group’s new leader.

The Admirals and Cawston ward councillor will, barring a revolt among the Conservative majority, be elected as council leader at a meeting of all councillors on Tuesday September 23.

He moved to deny any dissent among the Conservatives, and said he planned to take on former leader Craig Humphrey’s controversial enhanced role.

He said: “It is an honour to have been elected leader of the ruling Conservative group on Rugby Borough Council.

“We have a strong, award-winning council that everyone in the borough can feel proud of and I will strive to ensure that our excellent record of local government continues here in Rugby.”

He dismissed concerns from political rivals – as reported in the Observer last month – that a disruptive leadership battle was on the cards that could further divide councillors over proposals to reduce the size of the council.

He said: “There is no dissent or split in the group. We move as one and we’re all agreed on a way to move forward. I’m confident I have the full support of the group and I’m very pleased to have that.

“There was a leadership contest but there was no battle. It was very amicable, and there were a lot of very detailed questions, all around how we will best serve the public.”

He said he would propose to take on the enhanced leader-executive role adopted by Coun Humphrey in 2010 when the council decided not to replace its chief executive – a move which attracted criticism but has since been hailed a success by government and peer reviews.

Independent councillor for Dunsmore Howard Roberts congratulated Coun Stokes on his election.

He added: “The important constitutional question is whether Coun Stokes will be given the same enhanced leader status that his predecessor enjoyed.

“This enhancement, worth over £6,000 a year, should only be approved after a thorough review by councillors. This process is what Council agreed in 2010.”

Coun Stokes was first elected in May 2006. He has served as Chairman of both the Licensing and Safety Committee and the Crime and Disorder Committee.

The formal naming of a new leader will take place at the council’s next full meeting on September 23. The Conservatives have a majority of 22 out of 41 seats – reduced from 23 out of 42 due to the vacancy left by Coun Humphrey.

Coun Humphrey, who represented Bilton ward, left the town hall at the end of August for a new job as managing director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Clearing House. Deputy leader Coun Derek Poole has since temporarily assumed the leader’s responsibilities.

A council spokesman said the Bilton vacancy will remain until a by-election is called by two or more electors from Bilton.

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