Who best illustrates trust and respect in East Devon? Claire Wright? Martin Shaw? Cathy Gardner? No, according to our Tory Council it’s (drumroll) – Ian Thomas and Philip Skinner!!! Thomas ousting Paul Diviani as Tory Leader and Skinner as his deputy side-kick!
Oh,oh …. Mr Thomas a somewhat unknown quantity having kept himself firmly under the radar. Skinner, however, has enjoyed some limelight.
Skinner was a member of the maligned East Devon Business Forum, chaired by disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown. Though his affiliation at the Forum wandered between companies and council…
AND let’s not forget his controversial chairmanship of the Exmouth Regeneration Board which has made him few friends outside the charmed EDDC Tory circle ….
But most of all, who can forget “Christmas Card-Gate” – when then Leader of EDDC, Sarah Randall-Johnson, stripped him of his role of Rural Champion after this debacle:
“CONSERVATIVE councillor has been stripped of his role as rural champion after off-the-cuff remarks in a Christmas card offended the leader of a Devon authority.
Philip Skinner, who represents Talaton, near Ottery St Mary, sent the card to Sara Randall Johnson, leader of East Devon District Council and headed it “My greatest adversary”. Mr Skinner heaped praise on her at the expense of other members, boasting: “The rest I can demolish in my sleep, but you are in a class of your own.”
Mr Skinner signed off with two footnotes, the last of which stated: “If only things had turned out different, we’d have made one hell of a team.”
Unfortunately, we are not told what the first footnote was.”
Here is the announcement of the new Tory duo – oddly from a Dorset online website rather than from East Devon Tory sources:
“UPLYME’S district councillor Ian Thomas has been elected leader of the Conservative group at East Devon District Council.
Councillor Thomas, who lives in Ware, has served as a district councillor for the Trinity ward, which includes Uplyme and Rousdon, since 2009.
He is portfolio holder for finance at East Devon and is a director of the Exeter Science Park Company.
Councillor Thomas was elected new leader of the Conservative group at its annual general meeting this week, taking over from Paul Diviani, who has held the post since 2011.
Councillor Diviani will remain leader of East Devon District Council until its annual meeting on May 16th, when Councillor Thomas will take the reins.
Philip Skinner, portfolio holder for economy, who has represented the Tale Vale since 1999, secured the post of deputy of the Conservative group.
Councillor Skinner is a former chairman of the Tiverton and Honiton Conservative Association.
Commenting on their election, Councillor Thomas said: “It’s a great privilege to take over the leadership of our group from Paul, after his distinguished time at the helm.
“Our focus will continue on ensuring high quality affordable homes, an economy which works for all and delivering the services our residents and businesses value.
“We are uniquely fortunate to work within the framework of a natural environment second to none, supported by a range of leisure facilities and arts and culture events essential to the health, safety, prosperity and happiness of all we represent”.
“Whilst our new team has taken on leadership of the East Devon Conservative Group immediately, Paul will remain in post, as leader of East Devon District Council, until the annual council meeting on May 16.”
“Paul, Philip and I will take advantage of this time to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities to our new team, so the complex task of running a busy and ambitious district council continues, without missing a beat.”
Councillor Skinner added: “East Devon needs the energy, ideas and focus of our Conservative group to grow and prosper in challenging times.
“Our job is to continue our excellent performance, to extend the trust of our electorate, and return a larger Conservative majority in the 2019 district council elections so that East Devon continues to prosper for all.”
Councillor Diviani commented: “I’m very pleased to be able to pass the leaders baton of this fantastic council to such a talented and experienced team. the
“Ian and Philip have already demonstrated a strong ability to work together and, through their Conservative principles of trust and respect, to engage their colleagues in setting policy and fighting to get the very best for our wonderful district, to the benefit of our residents, businesses and visitors.”