Fringe Box



Reaction to County Council Leader Standing Down

Published on: 16 Nov, 2018
Updated on: 17 Nov, 2018

David Hodge, leader of Surrey County Council, announcing he is to stand down as leader. Photo: Surrey County Council.

By Rebecca Curley

Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have praised outgoing Surrey County Council (SCC) leader David Hodge, but many stressed this was now time for change.

Following applause and a standing appreciation for Cllr Hodge, after he announced he will stand down next month, members urged caution to his successor.

Speaking at the full council meeting on Tuesday, November 13, deputy leader Cllr John Furey said: “There has been no sense that anything other than residents has been at the forefront of David’s mind.

“He’s delivered to this county a number of things that have affected and benefited our residents and that should never been forgotten.

“His views have not always been well received but he has always recognised the need and always spoken out.”

Cllr Andrew Povey

Former council leader and fellow Tory councillor Dr Andrew Povey said: “I haven’t always agreed with him, but I do recognise the amount of time he has put in and that deserves a lot of respect.”

But he said a new leader would provide an “opportunity for the council for new ideas and new ways of doing things”.

He added: “I think we now have to start to look forward. I’m positive and I think everyone here should be positive about the future.”

County Cllr Chris Botten

There was even praise from Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Botten who said: “One thing that he and I have in common is that we both wear our hearts on our sleeves.

“And that sometimes makes life in the public light extremely difficult because it makes you vulnerable.

“But it’s that vulnerability that drives our consciousness and that vulnerability which drives our ethical force and while I haven’t always agreed with many of the things Cllr Hodge has done, it’s that vulnerability that I respect as a moral force.”

But there was caution as Cllr Botten said the successor will have “extreme challenges” and will need to explain things such as the closure of children centre, libraries and recycling centres.

He added: “There is a bigger picture. In my view, we have a county council and local government undergoing the worst crisis since the Second World War.

“The need for leadership and a voice for local government is as important, in my view, as it is for the residents of Surrey. Because in my view, the residents of Surrey will benefit if local government is strong. We can only close things once.”

Cllr Nick Harrison, an independent,  also issued praise, but added: “It’s a different view from the opposition. We have certainly suffered from his robust approach.”

Cllr Robert Evans, Labour member, likened Cllr Hodge’s position of being “let down” by his own party in central government like the goalkeeper in a recent football game, which Fulham lost 5-1 to Arsenal.

He said: “Here was a talented player, a person with great commitment and great skill but circumstances beyond his control made him unable to perform at the top of the game as he wants.

“The leader has spoken today about funding being cut and I think the responsibility lies as much with Whitehall, Westminster and Downing Street as it does here and any new leader will face those same challenges.”

Speaking for the first time in the chamber since he stood down as SCC chairman following comments made in an interview, Cllr Peter Martin, who served Cllr Hodge as a deputy, said: “I do wish him well as he heads off into the sunset and I do wish his wife Anne good luck.”

The Conservative Group will meet on November 23 to elect a new group leader, and that person will be their candidate for leader of the council at the council meeting on December 11.

Other parties are also allowed to propose their own candidate.

Councillors will then vote on who will be the new leader at the full council meeting on December 11.

See also: County Council Leader to Resign This Month

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Responses to Reaction to County Council Leader Standing Down

  1. Alan Davies Reply

    November 19, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Who is now going to stand up for Surrey and get decent funding from central government? Only Surrey Conservatives will decide the County Council’s next leader. Who will they choose? For all our sakes, surely not Cllr Matt Furniss.

    Cllr Furniss has stated on social media that the report he was intending to stand was inaccurate. Ed

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