New leader takes charge at district council

Ryan Fuller

Ryan Fuller - Credit: Archant

Conservative councillor Ryan Fuller has been elected as the new leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.

The former deputy leader took the step up following the resignation of former leader Councillor Graham Bull, who said he left for personal reasons and to offer a new generation the chance to lead.

Cllr Fuller, first elected to the council in 2012, was the only candidate nominated for the role and was elected on Wednesday with the approval of 41 of his peers, with four abstaining and one voting against.

"It is an incredibly proud moment," Cllr Fuller said, praising his predecessor and describing the area as "already one of the best places in the country to live".

In a 10-minute speech, he said would "take a pragmatic, rather than an ideological approach," and said he is not here "to oversee mediocrity," but will always "strive for the best".

"If I achieve just one thing during my time as leader, I hope it will be to bring together our Huntingdonshire community and bring an end to the ultra-local form of town-based nationalism, that is so often wheeled out to pit one part of our district against another.

"Prosperity in Huntingdonshire is never a zero-sum game where the success of one town means another has lost out, rather than encouraging communities to compete against one another, we should be pulling together and working to achieve a strong and prosperous Huntingdonshire," he said.

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Cllr Fuller thanked and paid tribute to his predecessor. He said Cllr Bull served "diligently and selflessly" in his two-and-a-half years as leader, saying he leaves the post with the council stronger than when he started.

"It's fair to say that he took on the leadership of this council in what were fairly difficult times, and he did take the helm of the ship and steer us into much, much calmer waters where, although not always perceived from the outside, is where we are today," Cllr Fuller said. "I will forever be immeasurably grateful to him for the faith he has always had in me, his trust, his guidance, patience, leadership, and most importantly his friendship".

Leader of the largest opposition group, independent Cllr Thomas Sanderson, also paid tribute to the outgoing council leader. He described him as a "true gent," as "a man of his word," and said he "always played with a straight bat".

Following a number of tributes paid, Cllr Bull said after the meeting it was "humbling and gratifying" to hear praise from all parties.

Speaking about his appointment after the meeting, Cllr Fuller said: "It's a huge honour and a huge privilege, but it's also quite overwhelming actually, and as I said in my speech to members… I certainly feel the weight of the responsibility and the task ahead. But I'm thrilled to have had the confidence of members from across the chamber and on a cross-party basis."

Asked what residents can expect from his leadership, he said: "Above all we are going to be an ambitious council. Huntingdonshire District Council has always had a strong track record of serving its community.

"We have had strong financial management, and we have maintained excellent services in times of changing government funding situations, and whilst that will continue, I think there is more we can do in our communities.

"We will be a pragmatic council, and as I said in my comments to members, I think it is important to remember that we will always be there for our most vulnerable residents in their time of need, and we will also reward those and support those that want to be as ambitious as we are, and get on with issues such as affordable housing, improving services for local residents, helping our rural communities be more resilient".

Cllr Fuller has chosen Cllr Jon Neish as his deputy leader.