New Conservative group leader in Tendring has ‘duty’ to try to rule
- Credit: Archant
Neil Stock was chosen to head up the Tories following a party meeting over the weekend, but revealed he almost did not run for election again following the death of his wife and former councillor Sarah Candy from cancer in April last year.
The new leader of the Conservative group on Tendring District Council (TDC) has said his party has a “duty” to try to run the authority.
The Conservatives won 23 of the 60 seats, one more than UKIP, in last week’s elections. Labour won four, independents six, while the Holland Residents’ Association have three seats and Tendring First and the Liberal Democrats hold one each.
Mr Stock, who was chosen after the previous leader Mick Page lost his seat last week, was council leader from 2009 to 2012, where for the first two years he ran a coalition cabinet with the now defunct Community Representatives party.
He said: “I took quite a while off from frontline politics, and I had decided I was not standing. But I was then able to think freely about it – I still live in the district and care passionately and I am in a position to work for my ward residents.
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“It has been a horrendous time for me personally. I’m not over it, I’m sure I never will be, but I am up for the fight and looking forward to getting stuck in.
“I have come back with a fresh perspective.
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“The group definitely feels that as largest party we have a duty to attempt to put together an administration to run the council for the good of the district.
“How that will manifest itself is difficult to tell. If other groups want to support UKIP they are very large and they could get the numbers, though they are very inexperienced in terms of their time on the council.
“There will be no secret deals, I will be open and transparent about it, and I will speak to all of the group leaders before the next council meeting.
“If I am not leader I will be the leader of a robust opposition.
“The main thing for all 60 councillors to bear in mind that people will not thank us or forgive us if we screw this up and let the council fall into disrepute. We have some excellent officers and we have a good reputation as an authority in the East of England, but that will not be the case if we have officers running for the hills because they don’t want to work for a basket case authority.”
The Labour group has ruled out a coalition of its four members with either the Conservatives or UKIP, and said it opposes Mr Stock being leader after concerns over his previous term as head of the council.
Ivan Henderson, group leader, said: “We will oppose things we think are wrong and support things we think are right.”
The independent group meets on Friday to select its leader and potentially make a decision on whether to support any particular party – potentially in return for some policy demands or a cabinet position.
Gary Scott, the only Liberal Democrat member of the council, has also said he is considering his options and would ask his party members and headquarters for their views before making a decision.
He said: “It seems to me I could be the king-maker looking at the numbers, but I am going to wait until the end of this week to take it all in. I am thinking about all of the options, and I amy end up voting on an issue by issue basis.”
He added that a senior Conservative source had told him the Tories would not join up with UKIP as it could be “a poisoned chalice”.
Michael Talbot, leader of the independent group, said he could envisage a position where the Tories, supported by his group and Mr Scott, could hold exactly half of the seats, meaning the retiring chairman – Conservative Val Guglielmi – would hold the casting vote, but stressed the group had not made any decisions.
It is understood UKIP councillors are due to meet tomorrow to select a group leader.
TDC meets in full on May 26 when a new administration will be approved.