THE BATTLE LINES are being drawn among the Thurrock Conservatives as they prepare to vote for a new leader as the present leader, Garry Hague is set to quit.
The election will take place on Wednesday evening at the AGM of the Thurrock Tories. There are six other places up for grabs including deputy leader, chief whip and secretary.
Chafford Hundred councillor Garry Hague has always been a somewhat reluctant leader, thrust into the position after the defection of Terry Hipsey to Labour.
After a difficult period as the leader when the council found themselves placed in the bottom three in the country, as well as challenging budgetary pressures, he developed a strong top tier cabinet around him who started to get going but the internal strife in the party overshadowed that with votes of no confidence and more defections.
Labour took over last May. Since then, Garry has cut a peripheral figure. His recent bout of poor health may have informed his decision however he looked relaxed and well at Fridays count standing by his assertion that the Labour administration is “in office but not in power”.
Cllr Hague confirmed to YT this morning that he will not be seeking re-election.
He said: “I will not be putting my name forward for Leader of the Conservative Group for the coming year. It has been a tremendous honour to the lead the Conservative Group for the past two years and I thank all of my team, and the Thurrock Council officer team, for all of their support. Leading the Group is a serious commitment and responsibility and there are a number of other things that I want to do outside of the Council in the coming year which would not allow me to do full justice to the leadership position. However, I do intend to play a full and active part in the Conservative Group, in Thurrock Council, and in the Conservative Party as we move forward.
“I am proud of what I and the Group achieved over the past two years. The improvement programme we led when the Conservatives were in administration put in place the foundations for the much improved performance of Thurrock Council that we have today. We put in place the recruitment process for the senior officer team that has made a step change in the quality of executive leadership of the Council, and we oversaw significant efficiencies and service improvements that have seen Thurrock Council’s performance and reputation markedly improve. The Alternative Budget we forced through Council in opposition earlier this year protected vital services valued by residents and supported the reduction in Council Tax that residents are now benefiting from.
“We have a very strong and talented Conservative team on Thurrock Council and that has been added to after the elections with the latest intake of new councillors who will bring new energy, enthusiasm and experience to the Conservative Team.
“I thank all of those who have supported me as Leader over the past two years, and I look forward to working proactively with the new Leader, and with all of the Conservative Team, in a new capacity.”
Pundits see the contest between Little Thurrock Rectory councillor Rob Gledhill and Stanford East councillor Phil Anderson with the voting expected to follow geographical lines with cllr Anderson commanding the “Revell bloc” on the east of the borough while cllr Geldhill may command the votes of those from the west side.