The St Ives councillor was last night voted as replacement for current leader Cllr Ian Bates who will step down in May. Cllr Ablewhite will take over as leader of the group - and leader of the district council - at a full council meeting on May 18. The leadership contest was a two-way contest between Cllr Ablewhite and fellow St Ives councillor Doug Dew. Cllr Ablewhite said: It is a tremendous honour to have the group instil their trust and support in me. I believe that I have a clear vision for the district and I am very much looking forward to starting work in my new role. I think that it is only right to thank Ian Bates for all the time that he has given to HDC during his time as leader and I wish him well for the future. It is clear that there are tremendous challenges facing local government and our response is going to have to be ever more business like if we are to retain the first class services of which we are so rightly proud. The former mayor of St Ives, who has represented the St Ives East District Council seat on HDC since 2004, is married to Annette and they have two children. He ran his own business for many years and now works for King Brothers in Peterborough.