LGA group exit for Surrey leader

By Heather Jameson | 22 March 2017

David Hodge has quit as the leader of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Conservative group following the political furore over the so-called Nickileaks affair.

However, the Surrey CC leader yesterday held on to his post at the council despite a vote of no confidence prompted by local Lib Dems.

Cllr Hodge sparked a high-profile row last month when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused prime minister Theresa May of offering Surrey CC a ‘sweetheart deal’.

Mr Corbyn revealed leaked texts, which suggested Surrey had secured extra cash in exchange for dropping a planned referendum on a 15% council tax rise.

Cllr Hodge vehemently denied there had been a deal, but a secret recording emerged in which he admitted to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with the Government over funding.

Writing in The MJ this week, Cllr Hodge said: ‘It’s clear others want someone leading the LGA Conservative group with a different approach.

'They may want someone who will ruffle fewer feathers and so I have decided to resign from my position at the LGA.’

During his time in post, Cllr Hodge was heavily involved in working with the Government to introduce the social care precept.

The Conservative group has announced Hillingdon LBC deputy leader Cllr David Simmonds will become acting leader until a successor is found for Cllr Hodge. In a statement, the group office said: ‘The LGA Conservative Group Executive has met following the resignation of Cllr David Hodge as LGA Conservative Group Leader, and has confirmed in line with the Group constitution and rules that Cllr David Simmonds takes the role of Acting Leader with immediate effect.'

The Group pay tribute to David Hodge for his contribution during his time as Group Leader’

Nominations for a permanment replacement will be made next month. 

Yesterday, Surrey councillors voted in favour of keeping Cllr Hodge as their leader, despite a vote of no confidence tabled by the Lib Dem leader, Cllr Hazel Watson.

The motion was opposed by 47 councillors, with only eight supporting the proposal, and 12 abstentions.

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