Suffolk: County council leader Jeremy Pembroke quits

JEREMY Pembroke is today retiring as leader of Suffolk County Council.

And he is set to step down from the authority altogether at the next election in two years’ time.

His departure was announced yesterday – the day after the council announced the departure of director Graham Dixon and monitoring officer Eric Whitfield.

Mr Pembroke, a former director of Hambros merchant bank, has been a Conservative member of the county council for the Kersey area for 10 years and has been leader of the authority for six.

He has recently been caught in controversy over the council’s proposed New Strategic Direction and came under fire for offering chief executive Andrea Hill her �218,000 salary when she was appointed three years ago.

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However he has always been recognised as a thoroughly decent man who was driven by a desire to improve the county of Suffolk.

Mr Pembroke said: “It has been a great honour to serve as the Leader of Suffolk County Council. As I have said many times, I am passionate about Suffolk and the people who live here.

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“I have enjoyed being Leader immensely. I believe we have made great strides in modernising the authority, making efficiencies and creating an organisation that, even in these difficult financial times, will deliver.

“I feel this is the right time for me to step down to give the next Leader enough time to prepare for the elections in 2013. I know that I will be leaving the authority in good hands.

“I have the utmost confidence in my cabinet and the officers who work so hard for Suffolk County Council. I would like to thank the people of Suffolk for their support over the last 10 years.”

Deputy leader Jane Storey, who takes over today as interim leader until the council holds its annual meeting next month, said: “I am very sorry that Jeremy is retiring as Leader of Suffolk County Council.

“He is one of the most honourable people I have ever known.

“He is passionate about Suffolk and that has been obvious to all who have worked with him. His leadership is one of great innovation, honesty and openness. He will be much missed.”

Mrs Hill said: “It has been a pleasure to work for, and with, Jeremy. His leadership, passion and commitment have led to huge improvements at Suffolk County Council.

“More than that – his integrity and honesty have made the council a better place.

“Jeremy will be a huge loss as Leader however I am sure he will continue to contribute to Suffolk for many years to come.”

His political opponents spoke of his personal decency – even though they disagreed with the policies his council had adopted.

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said: “I am not really surprised at the news. It was clear that he was under a great deal of pressure and frankly someone like Jeremy does not need that kind of pressure.

“We shall now have to see if his departure leads to any changes at the council.”

Labour leader Sandy Martin said: “I think he is a thoroughly decent chap but I do not think that he or his political colleagues had the proper level of control over the administration and I think whoever comes in needs to address that.”

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