County's leader steps down

SUFFOLK County Council is to have a new leader.Labour's Jane Hore is standing down after just 18 months at the helm – and is being replaced by Bryony Rudkin.

SUFFOLK County Council is to have a new leader.

Labour's Jane Hore is standing down after just 18 months at the helm – and is being replaced by Bryony Rudkin.

Mrs Rudkin has today been voted leader of the county's Labour group and is expected to be confirmed as council leader at the full meeting of the council on May 22.

The new deputy Labour group leader is controversial councillor David Rowe who forced through the 18.5 per cent council tax increase earlier this year.

Ms Hore decided to resign as group leader after 13 years as first deputy and then leader of the Labour group.

"It was Jane's own decision – she felt she had done her bit," said Mrs Rudkin, who represents the Priory Heath division in Ipswich, today.

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"From my point of view I am delighted and proud to have been elected leader of the group and I am looking forward to getting on with the work.

"But my position at the council has to be confirmed at the full council meeting later this month."

As leader of the dominant party in the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition which runs County Hall, Mrs Rudkin can be confident of winning the backing from councillors at that meeting.

Mrs Rudkin's arrival in the top job will see a change in style at the top of the council – she is more easy-going than her somewhat combative predecessor.

Elections for the county council are less than two years away – and this year's council tax rises have seen its Labour group hit an all-time popularity low both with voters and party members who blamed the county for their losses in local elections.

Mrs Rudkin will find it easier to persuade these undecided people to return to Labour than Ms Hore would have done.

However the promotion of Mr Rowe, who forced through the council tax rises, will ensure that the issue is kept alive over the next few years.

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