Tory leader steps down from role

Rob Cooke
Rob Cooke
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The leader of the Conservative group at Hastings Borough Council has announced he is stepping down from the role.

Councillor Rob Cooke said he made the decision due to work commitments.

He will step down as Tory leader at the next full council meeting on October 22.

Cllr Cooke has been leader of the Conservative group since the party faced near wipe-out in the borough elections in 2012, losing the leader and deputy leader at the same election. Since his election he has seen a complete overhaul of the group with five new councillors elected to the group at the last election with the gain from UKIP in his own ward of Ashdown after ex-Tory John Wilson had defected to the party prior to the elections.

Cllr Cooke said: “It is with great regret that I cannot continue in my current role as leader of the Conservative group. I have recently taken on a new job which is requiring me to focus far more on this than in the past and it would be unfair to my group but, more importantly, to the people of this town to carry on as a leader when I cannot give the kind of commitment needed anymore. I am proud of what we have achieved as a group over the last two and half years.

“Despite our small size we have stood up robustly for local people on issues involving overdevelopment and have continued to pressure this council for periods of free parking. I wish the new leader all the success in the world whomever it may be and look forward to supporting them and of course Amber Rudd in the run-up to next year’s General Election and beyond.” The Conservatives will choose their new leader next week. Cllr Cooke will continue as a councillor in Ashdown ward and plans to stand for re-election in 2016.”