Tendring: Council leader steps down before next round of cuts

THE leader of Tendring District Council is to step down after three years in the role.

Neil Stock made the shock announcement yesterday saying it is the right time for him to make way for a new leader before the next round of council cuts have to be made.

Last night the favourite to take over as leader, finance chief Peter Halliday, praised Mr Stock calling him a “gentleman and true friend”.

Conservative councillor Mr Stock, who represents Ardleigh and Little Bromley, became leader in 2009.

Speaking yesterday, he praised his team who he said had helped with a number of achievements during his time as leader.

He said: “There are so many achievements that I can be truly proud of during my time as Leader. However, there are none that I could claim sole credit for as it has always very much been a team effort.

“I step down on the back of the unprecedented success of our free parking permit initiative and the countless letters, cards and emails I have received from so many grateful residents.”

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Mr Stock will stand down as leader of the Conservative Group at the next group meeting and has recommended TDC’s finance chief Peter Halliday to take over. A private ballot will take place among Conservative members, before all councillors at TDC vote for a new leader of TDC on November 27.

Mr Stock added: “I have deliberately put off such a decision whilst we undertook the challenging process of restructuring the staffing establishment, but before that process is even complete it is clear that we are going to have to do it all over again - this time even harder, in order to meet the latest Government imposed cutbacks.

“As such I believe that a reorganisation of the Cabinet should no longer be delayed and in order to progress that the first course of action should be for me to take myself out of the equation and make way for a new Leader who can carry the Council forward towards a new dawn.”

The news comes several weeks after it emerged Mr Stock used money allocated for community projects on a flood survey which included recommendations for his own home.

Mr Stock defended his decision to spend �6,000 from his Small Schemes Allocation on the report saying flooding was a major issue in the area and that he had not wanted his home looked at specifically.

Commenting on the news, Mr Halliday said Mr Stock had introduced an ethos of transparency to the council.

“Working with Neil has been an absolute pleasure,” he said. “He is a gentleman and a true friend.

“He’s been able to maintain his integrity and stayed honest and transparent despite personal attacks which are uncalled for.

“He’s done some excellent things for this council, including taking our fight for Tendring to Westminster to meet with Ministers to talk about Jaywick while others have tried and failed.

“He also brought an ethos of transparency to the council and always stayed loyal to his principles.”