Councillor Downes has represented the ward for more than 15 years, serving continuously since his election in November 1997. He has been leader of the Liberal Democrat Group since May 2003 and was also chairman of one of the councils first overview and scrutiny panels from 2000 to 2002. The by-election will take place on Thursday, May 2, on the same day as the county council elections. Prior to becoming a district councillor, Cllr Downes taught languages in grammar and comprehensive schools and was head teacher for 21 years at Hinchingbrooke School. He was awarded an OBE in 1998, for services to language teaching and educational management, and is still heavily involved in education policy at national level. This, together with his work as a county councillor, is taking all of this efforts. Executive leader of HDC Jason Ablewhite said: Councillor Downes has played a key role at the district council over many years and has made a very valuable contribution. He has made a positive difference to the lives of the people who live and work in Huntingdonshire. On behalf of the whole council, I would like to thank him for his commitment, dedication and hard work. Cllr Downes is currently appointed to council, elections working group, employment panel, employees liaison advisory group, members development group and standards committee. He has also been appointed as the district councils representative on the Childrens Trust for Huntingdonshire for 2012/13.