Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count quits as chairman of combined authority preparing way for devolution

County council leader Steve Count who as resigned as chairman of the shadow combined authority

County council leader Steve Count who as resigned as chairman of the shadow combined authority - Credit: Archant

County council leader Steve Count – beaten in the poll to become the Tory candidate for mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – today sensationally quit as chairman of the combined authority preparing the way for devolution.

Cllr Count, who during his campaign to win the nomination described his role as chairman of the shadow authority as “in effect making me the acting mayor” will stand down tomorrow.

He said today the chairmanship “is simply incompatible with the additional role of leading Cambridgeshire County Council, particularly with a budget that at present cannot be agreed upon for 2017/18 and an election campaign to manage coming up to May.”

In the run up to this month’s poll among Tory members for the mayor candidacy Cllr Count had stated that “having been at the forefront for all this time, I feel I am best placed to understand the demands that will be placed on a mayor and the qualities he or she will need to fulfil the role successfully”.

Today’s statement, through his blog, complimented Councillor James Palmer, leader of East Cambs Council for winning his party’s nomination.

“The Conservative selection processes are now complete and although I wasn’t selected we have an excellent candidate in Councillor Palmer who I am sure with our support will secure an election victory,” he wrote.

“Whilst acting as chair of the combined authority both in the run up to formalisation of the shadow authority and selections it has been clear to me, probably more than anyone else, what a full-time role chairing the combined authority will be and how it is fast approaching that already”

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“Although having managed to do both up until now, it had therefore always been my intention due to the extreme demands of operating both roles simultaneously, that after the nomination process finished I would either step down as leader of the county council and concentrate on the mayoral role, (which I promised in the hustings) alternatively in what will now happen; step down from the chairing of the combined authority role as acting mayor and concentrate in leading the county council and preparing for the elections.”

He said he wanted to thank “the leaders of all the district councils and the chairman of the LEP, for the honour they unanimously bestowed upon me to take the chair through the various guises in the entire devolution process over the last two years in delivering the devolution deal.

“It is with enormous pride in us all, that I look back and recognise, not only have we secured a fantastic deal for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, but we are the only two tier authority in the entire country that managed to achieve that.”

He said he would remain a member of the combined authority.