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Sep 26 2012

Leader of Harrow Council to Stand Down

Cllr Bill Stephenson has announced his intention to stand down as Leader of Harrow Council. The announcement was made at a meeting of Harrow Labour Group on Tuesday evening (September 25th). The Labour Group will now put in place procedures to elect a new Leader.

Cllr Stephenson will have served as Leader of the Labour Group for four and a half years and as Leader of the Council for two and a half, the longest serving leader of the last 10 years.

He will continue as a councillor in Headstone South, the ward he has represented since he was elected onto the council in 1998.

Cllr Stephenson said: “I had already made a firm decision to stand down as Leader in the next few months, not least to allow me to spend more time with my family and friends but also because I think it is the right time for somebody else to take over the reins. However, some health problems have made this difficult and have brought my decision forward. My intention is to continue until a new Leader is elected and to carry out a phased handover at this very challenging time for the council.

“I am immensely honoured and privileged to have held this position. I believe our administration has numerous significant achievements to its name, not least being named Best Achieving Council in the UK for 2011/12. I would like to thank the Chief Executive and all of our council staff for their hard work and support in very difficult times as well as the support from our partners including the voluntary and third sector.

“I would also like to thank all members of the Labour Group for their support and pay tribute to the civilised relationships I have had with councillors from all political groups.

“Local residents in Harrow are rightly hard task masters. I would like to think that I have lived up to their high expectations over the last two and a half years. I shall miss my interactions with them although I will continue to represent my ward to the best of my ability.”

Chief Executive of Harrow Council, Michael Lockwood said: “I would like to say thank you to Bill for his dedication and service to both Harrow as a place and to the council. Speaking on behalf of all staff at the council, it has been a privilege to work with him. We wish him well and wish him good health.”

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Susan Hall, said: “Cllr. Stephenson has spoken a lot about ‘tough decisions’ during his time as Leader of the Council, and I’m sure this was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make. We wish him and his family the best at what must be a difficult time. In politics we do a lot of things that matter, and quite a lot of other things which don’t. But nothing matters if you don’t have your health, and I’m very sorry to hear that Cllr. Stephenson has had to make this decision on health grounds.

Naturally we had disagreements over policy and various decisions his administration made, and I have no doubt such battles with continue with whoever succeeds Cllr. Stephenson. However, even his political adversaries will say that he tried to make decisions with the best intentions at heart, and that he was a dedicated figurehead for his Group and the Labour Party.”

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