Two leading Conservative councillors have ruled themselves out of the race to become the new chair of the Local Government Association, potentially clearing the path for Conservative group leader Gary Porter to take the role unopposed.
Surrey CC leader David Hodge and former Cheshire West & Chester Council leader Mike Jones had both been linked with the role but have informed LGC they intend to battle it out to become group leader instead – a role that South Holland DC leader Cllr Porter will give up this summer after four years.
Cllr Hodge, who is also chair of the County Councils’ Network, told LGC: “I have never made any comment to anyone that I would put my name forward for the LGA chairmanship. I’m more likely, when nominations are up, to put my name forward for the LGA Conservative group leader role.
“I have received a lot of support to put my name forward so that’s what I will do and we will see what happens.”
Cllr Jones had previously told LGC he was considering standing for LGA chair but added he would decide by 22 May if he would. He has since told LGC he intends to stand for group leader instead.
Should no other candidates put their names forward it paves the way for Cllr Porter to become chair of the LGA after he spoke of his intention to stand for the role earlier this week.
The last day the Conservatives can open the window for nominations for the roles of chair, group leader, and other key appointments in the party, is 26 May, although LGC understands the party intends to do it sooner. Candidates will then have until 9 June to put their names forward.
The Conservatives regained control of the LGA after winning more than 500 seats and control of an extra 28 councils in this month’s local elections. The Tories have a majority of 0.6% and, as a result, Labour’s David Sparks is set to be replaced as the LGA’s chair.