Council leader fights for future

A COUNCIL leader is fighting for his political future following a plot to oust him and replace him with a younger man.Derek Redhead was left clinging on by his fingertips to the leadership of St Edmundsbury Borough Council following a meeting at which the 71-year-old was told he was no longer wanted in the post.

A COUNCIL leader is fighting for his political future following a plot to oust him and replace him with a younger man.

Derek Redhead was left clinging on by his fingertips to the leadership of St Edmundsbury Borough Council following a meeting at which the 71-year-old was told he was no longer wanted in the post.

But the Wickhambrook councillor refused to stand down in the face of pressure from fellow Conservatives and accused them of breaching protocol by trying to kick him quietly out the back door.

It is the latest crisis to engulf the Conservative group, following the resignation of high-profile members Mike Brundle and Jennifer Hart last year.

Mr Redhead, who has been the Conservative leader of the council for the past two years, said: "A delegation from the Conservative group informed me that they no longer wished me to lead the group, after a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Wednesday night.

"In order to avoid publicity, they have in effect kicked me out without going through the democratic procedure for election.

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"With one year until the 2003 borough elections, it was felt that I had done an 'excellent job', but they wanted a young face to create a new image if the Conservatives were to have any chance of winning. They want someone younger and better looking."

John Griffiths, the 48-year-old councillor for Ixworth, seems to be the younger face the Conservatives want and his is the name put forward as the next possible leader.

Mr Griffiths, of Ixworth Thorpe, near Bury St Edmunds, said: "I have never sought leadership. If the majority of the group asked Derek to stand down, I'm sure it would not be any reflection on the contribution he has made and will continue to make."

A leadership election could be called within days to settle the matter.

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