Conservative leader steps down

Posted On 26 Apr 2017 at 10:24 am

The long-serving leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council is standing down.

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald will step down as leader next month and retire at the next local elections in 2019.

He said: “At the last elections I advised my local Conservative Party Association that they would be my last and I confirmed that again at the beginning of the new council term in 2015.

“So, as my colleagues in the Conservative group know, I will be leaving the city council in two years’ time when my term of office expires.

“As I was first elected to Brighton County Borough Council at a by-election in 1968, next year I will have had the honour of continuously serving as a councillor in Brighton, where I was born, for Brighton, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove councils for 50 years.

“For the last 33 of these years, I will have had the great privilege of representing the residents of Patcham Ward and I will always be grateful for the continued support and friendship that I have enjoyed over all this time.

“I have either held office as leader, opposition leader, cabinet member or committee chairman for all but my first two years, and I was Mayor of Brighton in 1982-83 when I welcomed Margaret Thatcher and her government to Brighton.

“I have decided that my last two years will be spent in the same way as my first, and I therefore advised my group on Monday that I will not be standing for re-election as leader at our annual general meeting next month.

“I have been enormously proud of my involvement in bringing on to the council, and continuing to encourage, a number of new and younger Conservative councillors.

“So, I think that the time is now right for those who will be leading the Conservative Party into the next local elections in two years’ time, and then forming what I expect to be a Conservative administration, to take the lead.
“My successor as leader of the Conservative group, who will take over from me at the council’s annual meeting on (Thursday) 18 May, will of course have my full support and encouragement.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Conservative group members, past and present, for their continued support over all these years, which I have much appreciated.”

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    People of all Parties applauded, at some length, cllr Theobald’s epic speech last June against Labour’s latest plot to close down Hove’s Carnegie Library. I said on the radio early the next morning that it was the speech of his lifetime.

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Oration from Theobald is rarely heard these days and the speech CH refers to was a lovely little glimpse into his past of erudite Tory legend. Sadly, in my time, what I have mostly seen from him – the flailing arms and high-pitched wailing that Jason Kitcat so wickedly uploaded to You Tube during the Tory Administration years – has done him little credit.

    Frances Tonks, Bill Randall and (occasionally still) Garry Peltzer Dunn are also remembered for capacity to galvanise listeners with amazing speaking ability.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Cllr Tonks’s sex-change is news to me. May I be among the first to convey all the best – even if I shall miss that extraordinary resemblance to Colonel Sanders when he and I worked hard, speeches galore, to see off the 2001 plot by Lord Bassam and Simon Fanshawe to have Hove and Brighton at their mercy.

  3. RK Reply

    It’s about time he went. Can’t comment on what he did in the past, as I’m too young. But he’s not that visible within the ward at the moment and doesn’t actually seem to do much as a ward councillor, leaving that to one of his ward colleagues.

    Will be nice to have a chance to get a different councillor for Patcham and Hollingbury that will work for the people of the ward.

  4. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Naturally, I had many disagreements with Geoffrey Theobald. An abiding memory, however, is May 2010.

    I had prevailed upon the Green Party, with the help of cllr West, to insist – from my many talks on the hoof – that the General Election in Pavilion turned upon the shifting demographic of Patcham. I spent a month in cycling to there from Hove and back every day. The support built up. It was exhilarating.

    So much so that, come Polling Day, there were Green posters across the place. Jonathan Porritt became a familiar sight there. And, that Polling Day, I cycled from Hove to be a teller at a Polling Station at 7am, where Geoffrey Theobald in his Jag arrived fifteen minutes late!

    He and I had good-natured badinage around all this. And I treasure the moment, around 8 am, when a fellow arrived to vote, saw my rosette and declared, “I’m voting for you! Up the Revolution!” Geoffrey gulped at this, startled, as if it should not be happening in Patcham, but shrugged as if to accept changing times.

    And doubtless he agreed with Caroline’s husband that my insistence upon work in Patcham helped her majority.

    Be that as it may, I found it a wonderful time. Doorsteps are so much more interesting than polls.

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