Conservative councillors in Brighton and Hove have elected a new leader at their group’s annual general meeting (AGM) last night (Monday 8 May).
Tony Janio, 55, will replace Geoffrey Theobald, 73, as the leader of the opposition Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council when the new municipal year starts next week.
Councillor Janio, who was elected unopposed, said: “It is a huge honour to be given this opportunity to lead the Conservative group and I would like to thank my colleagues for their support.
“I have huge shoes to fill taking over from Geoffrey, who next year will have been representing Brighton residents on the council for 50 years.
“I would like to pay tribute to Geoffrey for all he has done for the Conservatives both locally and nationally and wish him well for the future.”
Councillor Janio, who represents Hangleton and Knoll Ward, is joined by two new deputy chairmen Councillor Lee Wares, 50, who, like Councillor Theobald, represents Patcham Ward, and Councillor Steve Bell, 62, who represents Woodingdean.
The pair replace Councillor Andrew Wealls, 51, who represents Central Hove Ward, and Councillor Dee Simson, 67, who represents Woodingdean. They decided to step down.
Councillor Simson is expected to become the deputy mayor of Brighton and Hove at the council’s annual meeting next week.
Councillor Theobald, who has most recently been the opposition group leader since 2011, said last week that he would step down to give the new leadership team time to prepare for the local elections in 2019.
He had already indicated that he would be retiring from the council in two years’ time when his term of office expires.
The Conservatives currently hold 20 out of the 54 seats on the council while the ruling Labour Party has 22.
Councillor Janio said: “We have a strong and united group on the council and are already looking forward to the local elections in 2019 when we hope that the residents will entrust us with taking over the administration of the council.”
The Greens have also held their AGM, with Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who represents Brunswick and Adelaide Ward, re-elected as the group convenor. Councillor Lizzie Deane, who represents St Peter’s and North Laine Ward, will continue to serve as deputy chair.