To consider a report by the Managing Director on the election of the Executive Leader of the Council.
(Councillors D A Giles and Mrs S A Giles entered the meeting at 7.55pm).
In conjunction with a report by the Managing Director (a copy of which is appended in the Minute Book) it was proposed by Councillor G J Bull, seconded by Councillor J A Gray and
that Councillor R Fuller be elected Executive Leader of the Council for the for the period to the Annual Meeting in May 2022.
Councillor Bull reported that it had been two and a half years since he had been elected as Executive Leader and it had been an honour to hold the position. He was proud of his achievements during his tenure and of his members who had helped to deliver their Manifesto. However due to changes in his personal circumstances it was the now the right time to stand down. There still remained a lot of work to do, with many challenges for the new leadership which would require a great deal of enthusiasm. Leadership was hard, he reminded Members that he had held the position of Leader twice and the challenges were not getting any easier.
Councillor Bull paid credit to the dedication of the staff led by the Managing Director together with the effort and work time she personally had put into the organisation. He was eternally grateful for her support which had enabled him to speak openly and honestly. He also paid tribute to the Executive Support Team, as well as the Conservative Group for their support and encouragement. He explained that his Cabinet had been a tremendous source of strength and had acted as a united team.
In concluding his remarks Councillor Bull paid particular tribute to his Deputy, Councillor Fuller. It had been one of his first decisions as Executive Leader to appoint Councillor Fuller to this role. He had recognised his intelligence, energy and strength of character and was delighted that Councillor Fuller had been there to support him in his role as Executive Leader. In the two and half years that they had been working closely together, his respect and admiration for Councillor Fuller had grown and he expressed his delight in nominating Councillor Fuller for the role of Executive Leader.
Councillor T D Sanderson expressed his sadness at the resignation of Councillor Bull as Executive Leader and conveyed his best wishes to him and his family for the future. In doing so he paid tribute to the work that Councillor Bull had undertaken during his tenure, particularly the part that he had played in establishing more funding for Disabled Facilities Grants, together with his commitment to ending homelessness and rough sleeping.
On behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Mrs S J Conboy expressed her eternal gratitude for the work of Councillor Bull and thanked him personally for the united way in which he had led the Council. She thanked him for his generosity of spirit, kindness to every Member of the Council and for his welcome of positive opposition, which spoke volumes about him as a Leader and as a person.
Councillor P Kadewere echoed the sentiments expressed by the other Members and on behalf of the Labour Group wished Councillor Bull well.
The Chairman of the Council, Councillor R W West, reported upon the success that had been achieved during Councillor Bull’s term as Executive Leader in the reduction of staff sickness across the Council.
In his seconding of the motion, Councillor J A Gray commented upon the heartfelt tributes that had already been paid to Councillor Bull, who was a tremendous gentlemen. He thanked Councillor Bull for his friendship and leadership and with great pleasure supported the motion.
In his concluding remarks, Councillor Bull expressed his desire to see Huntingdonshire thrive and was proud of the District that he had lived in for nearly his whole life. He supported Councillor Fuller in his determination and skills to take this Council forward.
In accepting his election as the new Executive Leader, Councillor Fuller expressed how touched he was with the words from his colleagues and also wished to pay his own tribute to Councillor Bull. Councillor Bull had diligently and selflessly stood as Executive Leader, Deputy and Chairman of an Overview and Scrutiny Panel. He had taken on the role of Executive Leader during difficult times, but had steered the Council into calmer waters and under his Leadership had provided more financial security for the Council as well as making great progress in affordable housing and homelessness, waste and recycling, green space provision and health and leisure. Members should be assured that his contributions had improved the prosperity of the District making it a better place. His selfless dedication to providing a better service for its residents made him a good example to follow.
Councillor Fuller, in his previous role as Deputy Executive Leader, commended Councillor Bull for his support in developing his role and referenced that there was no better teacher than him. Councillor Fuller expressed his eternal gratitude to Councillor Bull for his trust, guidance and leadership and, in particular, his friendship that had left the District Council in a better position. On behalf of the Council he thanked him for his contribution.
In expressing his gratitude to Members present this evening, Councillor Fuller had been touched by the cross party support he had received in his election as Executive Leader. He was well aware of the trust that had been placed in him and the high level of responsibility for the tasks ahead for the authority. Huntingdonshire as a District had good strategic transport links, low unemployment, prosperous towns and a well-cared for environment. It was vital to ensure good stewardship so that Huntingdonshire remained a success under his party’s administration. As a Leader it was necessary to remain pragmatic with a plan to deliver jobs, homes and access to services through more proactive engagement with the community, focussing on rural isolation, regeneration projects to help High Streets and tackling homelessness and housing affordability. In order to achieve these actions, Councillor Fuller explained that the Council needed to be ambitious and not hold back from championing and highlighting the excellent services that are already provided to residents. As well as striving for the best outcome for residents and to provide support for the most vulnerable, through championing inequality and removing barriers.
Councillor Fuller informed Members it was his privilege to be elected as Executive Leader and he was honoured to serve the District in an area that his family had lived for hundreds of years. It was his aim to bring together Huntingdonshire’s communities, with a focus on people not simply places. In so doing, he made a plea to all Members to work together to deliver the aspirations of the residents of Huntingdonshire.