Clark says he will be candidate for leader of Fenland Council as all 34 Tories gather for first time since election

Fenland decides and so John Clarke is back and will lead a group with an even bigger majority

Fenland decides and so John Clarke is back and will lead a group with an even bigger majority - Credit: Archant

John Clark said today he would be a candidate to remain as Fenland Council leader when the ruling Tory group meets for the first time on Thursday.

With an increased majority – the Tories won 34 of the 39 seats in last week’s election- Cllr Clark removed any hesitancy about standing.

As the count concluded at the Hudson leisure centre on Friday he hinted he would like to carry on but it would a “discussion I need to have with my wife”.

Clearly both have agreed he should, and on Thursday Cllr Clark will put his name forward to the Tory group.

It is likely most will agree that the man who steered them to such a spectacular victory ought to be allowed to continue – however Cllr Clark said “it would be up the group to decide whether I carry on as leader. Anyone can put their name forward.”

Cllr Clark said today it would be premature to announce any possible changes to his Cabinet until his re election as group leader.

He said: “I think it’s going to be a difficult four years with difficult decisions to be made. The budget has been cut by £8million and we can expect that to be cut even more.”

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Possible names for promotion within the Fenland Cabinet include county council leader Steve Count, now a Fenland councillor too, and Steve Tierney, the Wisbech councillor and chairman of the Wisbech Conservative Association. There were rumours at the weekend that Cllr Count might be considering stepping down as county council leader (where he heads a minority administration) to fight for leader of Fenland.

With a third of his Tory group now female, Cllr Clark can also be expected to extend their representation in his previously male dominated cabinet. Until now his nine strong team has included only one woman, Michelle Tanfield, and likely candidates for promotion include Councillor Sam Hoy and Councillor Sam Clark, both Wisbech area councillors.

However also returning to Fenland Hall is Councillor Dee Laws from Whittlesey who has retained an appetite for local politics in recent years and might well be considered for cabinet or a committee chairmanship.

Councillor Dave Connor was returned unopposed in Doddington and has long held ambitions to join the top table at Fenland Hall. It’s unlikely, however, it will be this time round as he’s now chairman of the county council planning committee.

Likely to remain on the back benches is Councillor Kit Owen who won by a comfortable majority in March. Despite a formidable record in cabinet he was dropped by former leader Alan Melton, later taking over as chairman of the governance committee under Cllr Clark.

Should Cllr Clark win a fresh mandate as leader he might well decide to freshen his team and that could mean moving out long serving members such as Peter Murphy and Ralph Butcher.