As you may have seen in the media last week, I have decided to step down as leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council. I think that the time is right for those who will be leading the Conservative Group into the next local elections in two years’ time, then forming what I expect to be a Conservative Administration, now to take the lead.
I had already indicated to my colleagues some time ago that I will not be seeking re-election in 2019. This will mean that this will be my penultimate article before my successor takes over. I have been fortunate to have had a varied and interesting time over the last 50 years that I will have served continuously as a councillor. Not only have I been involved with Brighton County Borough Council, East Sussex County Council and now Brighton and Hove City Council, holding office as leader, opposition leader, cabinet member or committee chairman and serving as mayor from 1982-3; since 1989 I have also been heavily involved in local government at a national level.
I was a leading member of the Association of County Councils and its successor the Local Government Association for 26 years. During this period I was the Conservative Group’s national spokesman for fire and emergency planning, culture and tourism, and went on to chair the Board of Directors of Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services for seven years. The latter involved regularly meeting with ministers and civil servants and ensuring that councillors and their officers were briefed on new legislation. In 2005 I was also appointed by the Government to the licensing authority set up to curb the exploitative activities of Gangmasters supplying labour to the agriculture and shellfish industries.
During this time I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed the support of the residents of Patcham and my colleagues in the Conservative Group, for which I will always be grateful. I hope to have helped to pave the way for a bright future in Brighton and Hove with a 2019 Conservative Administration and will of course continue to represent my residents and support my colleagues for my last two years.
Geoffrey Theobald is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.