10th Dec, 2016

Stratford District Council Cabinet member resigns

Stratford Editorial 4th Nov, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A MEMBER of Stratford District Council’s ruling Cabinet has resigned.

Coun Maurice Howse had been the council’s portfolio holder for enterprise, housing and revenues since taking over from Val Hobbs back in 2012.

But this week it was announced the Conservative councillor would be standing down due to personal reasons.

Coun Howse admitted the council’s recent decision not to be part of the proposed West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) had been a key factor in his own decision to step down.

But in a letter of resignation to council leader, Chris Saint, he said it was not a case of “toys out of the pram on losing a vote” and the move came with “mixed feelings.”

He went on to praise the authority and its officers for their hard work and support over the years.

Speaking to The Observer, he said: “It was a difficult decision but the reasons behind it are personal until such time as I choose to share them.

“One of the biggest triggers was losing the vote on joining the WMCA – it was a big disappointment and I think Stratford District Council is missing a golden opportunity.

“Economic growth is key and I felt being involved could have been hugely beneficial to the district. That was something I tried to convey to my fellow councillors but unfortunately the whole thing had become a bit of a political football.

“We have around 5,500 people travelling out of the district to work and with business expansion and incentives to start up locally, we could have kept them here.

“Unfortunately we’ve got no voice now and we will be relying on Warwickshire County Council to come up with an alternative so we will have to see what happens.”

Council leader Chris Saint said: “I was saddened by Coun Howse’s decision as he provided a clear focus for the council to support business and enterprise, which is the focus of our prosperity. He was well-respected by business leaders at all levels and will remain a valued colleague.”

The role will now be taken on by Long Itchington and Stockton councillor Dave Riches.

Coun Saint added: “Dave has a positive rapport with local communities. He also has a clear understanding of the relationship between businesses and the council and will make a positive contribution to that important area of work.”

Coun Howse was first chosen to represent the Bidford and Salford ward in 2011 and was re-elected in the Avenue seat earlier this year.

He will remain a backbencher while Coun Riches will take on his former role effective immediately.