THE leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council is to stand down after just eight months in the job. Councillor David Bard blamed his move on the pressure of trying to keep up with his work for the Open University. Leadership was a more onerous task

Cllr David Bard

THE leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council is to stand down after just eight months in the job.

Councillor David Bard blamed his move on the pressure of trying to keep up with his work for the Open University.

Leadership was a more onerous task than he had been led to believe last year, he told The Hunts Post.

Cllr Bard will officially resign later this month and a successor will be elected by the full council on January 25.

Fellow Conservative, Councillor Ray Manning, a 60-year-old fruit farmer who lives in Willingham, has expressed an interest in standing for the leadership.

It is widely expected that, although SCDC has no overall political control, he will have the backing of the largest party group, the Conservatives, to take over full time. He has also been promised support by some Independents.

Cllr Bard, who lectures in biology and biochemistry on health and human biology courses, said: "I took over with some trepidation last May, having been assured it would not take up more time than my planning portfolio in the cabinet. That proved not to be the case. It's really a full-time job.

"The Open University year is quite variable but it really starts cranking up in February."

Cllr Bard, who has been a member of SCDC for nearly 19 years and represents it on outside bodies including Cambridgeshire Horizons, added: "I'm not giving up on the council. I just want to go back to my previous role."

If elected, Cllr Manning's biggest task will be to see through the 9,000-home new town development at Northstowe, the largest single planning application ever submitted to a British planning authority, at a time when the council's tax revenue is capped.

Cllr Daphne Spink, the previous leader who has been deputy leader, is also expected to stand down. She may be succeeded by Independent cabinet member Cllr Simon Edwards.

The Conservatives have 26 seats on the council, three short of the number needed for an overall majority. The Liberal Democrats have 18 councillors, Labour one and there are 12 Independent members.

With headquarters in Cambourne, South Cambs District Council covers villages including Papworth, Caxton, Eltisley, Conington, Elsworth, Fen Drayton, Graveley and Little Gransden.