Sara wins but Ray loses
EAST Devon's Conservatives are keeping tight lipped after a failed leadership bid by an Exmouth district councillor last Thursday, in what was essentially for the leadership of the district council. The Journal understands that, at the constituency associ
EAST Devon's Conservatives are keeping tight lipped after a failed leadership bid by an Exmouth district councillor last Thursday, in what was essentially for the leadership of the district council.The Journal understands that, at the constituency association's Annual General Meeting, former Stevenage MP and Littleham district councillor Tim Wood failed to get the support of fellow members in his bid to accede Cllr Sara Randall Johnson as leader of the ruling Conservative group at East Devon District Council.But, in a surprise result, Feniton councillor Graham Brown won the backing of members to replace Budleigh Salterton councillor Ray Franklin as deputy leader of the group, after about seven years.While the challenges were for internal party positions in the council's ruling group, the jockeying for position was in affect for the leadership and deputy leadership of the district council.In the history of East Devon District Council, since the local government reorganisation in the early 1970s, the leader and deputy leader of the ruling Conservative group have occupied the two top positions on the council's executive.Jon Quinn, the Conservative party's agent in East Devon, dismissed talk of a split in the party and said: "In most councils the positions change more regularly than that."Ray had been deputy leader of the group for at least seven years."This is standard - positions are always up for grabs at the AGM and there is nothing unusual in that."It was clear that all councillors are firmly united behind the Conservative group."Cllr Ray Franklin declined to comment on the meeting, while Conservative Chief Whip at the council, Cllr Bob Peachy, said that nothing was going to be ratified until April when traditionally positions on the council's executive, committee chairmen and portfolio holders were reviewed - he refused to confirm whether Cllr Franklin would remain deputy council leader.He said: "There are changes every year - unlike officers of East Devon, the positions of elected members have to be looked at each year and ratified."There is nothing unusual about this."We always get new councillors, with new skills and experience and a great deal of experience in different walks of life, and we look at using their talents."We always have to look at those new councillors and what they have to offer. All I can say is Miss Sara Randall Johnson remains leader.