Shona Johnstone Quits

COUNTY council leader Shona Johnstone has quit following the row over the appointment of a new £200,000 year chief executive. Cllr Johnstone announced this morning (Mon) that she is stepping down as Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.  She will remai

COUNTY council leader Shona Johnstone has quit following the row over the appointment of a new £200,000 year chief executive.

Cllr Johnstone announced this morning (Mon) that she is stepping down as Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council. She will remain as a county councillor representing the Willingham division.

Cllr Johnstone's decision was announced after the ruling Tory group had summoned councillors to a special meeting on Saturday.

Cllr Johnstone has been a county councillor since 1993 and was elected Leader in May of this year. Prior to this, she was Cabinet Member responsible for services for Children and Young People and before that, she was responsible for Environment and Transport services. During that time she led the council's approach to promoting public transport and in planning the Guided Busway now under construction.


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Cllr Johnstone's decision to resign was made because she believes "it to be in the best interests of the county council and its services."

She added: "I think that the row over the appointment of a new Chief Executive has been blown out of all proportion by some councillors.

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"I accept that I made one inappropriate phone call but it was driven entirely by my desire to get the best possible candidate to work with me and the Council's Cabinet to deliver top quality, value for money services for the people of Cambridgeshire. As in any large organisation, the relationship between the Leader or Chairman, and the Chief Executive is very important.

"If that relationship fails, then it usually means the organisation fails. That concern was my sole motive for making that phone call."

"I must emphasise that at no point, did I ask the candidate to withdraw.

I accept that on this one occasion I made an error of judgement in contacting the candidate directly. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I am now resigning as Council Leader."

"I must pay tribute to the county council's staff who have been incredibly supportive over the last six months. They have consistently demonstrated their professionalism and dedication and often do not get the credit they deserve.

"I would also like to offer, a special thanks to the Council's Director of People and Policy, Stephen Moir, whose professionalism and commitment has been of great support to me in recent weeks."

The county council's ruling Conservative Group has nominated Sawtry Councillor Keith Walters to return as Leader.

Cllr Walters was Leader for 10 years until May of this year. He is also chairman of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority. His nomination will require the formal endorsement of the full Council on 11th December. However, in practical terms he becomes Leader with immediate effect.

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