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New boss at County Hall

PUBLISHED: 10:57 21 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

WOMEN are on top at County Hall – and right at the top of the political tree is new council leader Jane Hore.

After eight and a half years as deputy to Chris Mole, she's moved into the top job – being confirmed as council leader at today's (Tues) full council meeting.

WOMEN are on top at County Hall – and right at the top of the political tree is new council leader Jane Hore.

After eight and a half years as deputy to Chris Mole, she's moved into the top job – being confirmed as council leader at today's (Tues) full council meeting.

Her new deputy is Ipswich councillor Bryony Rudkin, while the council was one of the first counties in Britain to appoint a woman chief executive when Lin Homer took over the role four years ago.

Just to make the women's role complete at County Hall, Tory Sue Sida-Lockett is leader of the opposition.

But Mrs Hore doesn't see the fact that the most senior posts at the council are held by women as especially significant.

"I have a different style and a different emphasis to Chris, but I don't think there will be radical changes.

"I really can't say how much difference it will make. I can't really say whether any differences of style are because I'm a woman," she said.

She wasn't sure that the arrival of women in the top jobs indicated that the "glass ceiling" at County Hall had been shattered.

"If you look at senior jobs in the county council as a whole, you'll see that they are mainly held by men.

"There's still a battle out there to be fought," she said.

Mrs Hore now finds herself working just a few yards from where she was born and brought up in the old Bond Street fire station.

"My father was a keen trades unionist and the family were all involved in politics – it's something I got involved in at a very young age, starting with posting leaflets through doors," she said.

Although she lived in Ipswich, many of her happiest childhood memories are of holidays with relations in Lowestoft – and that is where she now lives.

After school and Ipswich Civic College, Mrs Hore worked in the advertising department of a group of newspapers in west London.

She was there until the mid-1980s when she moved to Lowestoft and became active in local politics.

She'll never forget the night she was first elected to Suffolk County Council.

"I was elected on the night of the Great Storm, October 15, 1987," she said.

"I was also a member of Waveney Council for four years in the late 1980s."

Suffolk County Council in those days was very different to how it is now," she added.

"I'd been on the council for two years when we celebrated its 100th anniversary – but in some ways things hadn't changed at all in those 100 years."

Mrs Hore became deputy leader of the Labour group on the council in 1990, at the same time as Chris Mole took over the group leadership.

"We complemented each other – it wasn't the case that he came from Ipswich and I came from Lowestoft," she said.

Three years later the group surprised almost everyone – not least its own members – by wresting control away from the Tories, who had run County Hall for 104 years.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats came together to form a coalition which has run the council ever since – through two local elections.

The way the authority does its business has been restructured, and last year Suffolk won the title "Council of the Year."

Her main interests at County Hall have always been planning, economic development, relations with other authorities, and building up links with Europe.

"Now my role will be much wider, it will keep me very busy," she said.

The role of council leader has expanded considerably over recent years – when he first took on the job, Mr Mole was able to combine it with his career at BT.

By 1998 he found it necessary to leave BT and devote more of his time to council work – it was at least a four-day week for him at County Hall, which he combined with his role as deputy chairman of the East of England Development Agency.

As head of an organisation with an annual turnover of almost £500 million, it's not possible to keep tabs on what is happening with one or two evening meetings a week.

"I am looking forward to the job – I think I'm ready for it," she said.


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