SURPRISE SURPRISE: “What a turn up for the book” says defeated council leader who reveals he stays till May 21

Turn up for the book! Cllr Nick Clarke reveals that, technically, he remains leader for now

Turn up for the book! Cllr Nick Clarke reveals that, technically, he remains leader for now - Credit: Archant

DEFEATED Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke revealed tonight that because of a loophole in the law he remains in post until May 21.

Whilst colleagues of all parties who lost their seats in last Thursday’s poll ceased to be a councillor at midnight on Sunday he, as leader, carries on until the annual council meeting later this month.

He told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire earlier tonight that chief executive Mark Lloyd had checked with the legal department and had been given the advice that, under changes brought in two years ago under the Localism Act, he remains leader for now.

“Not that I can do much,” joked Cllr Clarke. “I handed my badge back this morning and disabled my email account.”

He said the law had been amended to allow continuity and although his Cabinet ceased to be in place on Sunday night he, as leader, continued in office. “There you go,” he explained. “Nothing to do with the council but all primary legislation. What a turn up for the book.”

Cllr Clarke appeared relaxed and in jovial form as he made light of the revelation and when asked what he might be expected to do replied “I am rather hoping not too much”.

Pressed on who the Tories might choose as his replacement he proffered the opinion that those named as possible replacements were “all very capable” and he would leave the council in safe hands.

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He also speculated that his Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Steve Count, might be a worthy successor but “I have not spoken to him about it. I am just giving my opinion having seen him in Cabinet and council.”

Meanwhile Lib Dem leader Kilian Bourke disclosed tonight he had put a motion to full council which might lead to a switch away from the Cabinet system and reversion to committee style government.

It would lead he said to giving “ordinary councillors a say in the day to day decision making of the council, and trying to involve the public more”.

He hoped others might agree on cross party agreements on individual policies as a way of shifting power away from the centre.