Councillor Tony Mathias has announced that he is resigning as leader of Rutland County Council and ward member for Oakham South East with immediate effect.
Coun Mathias (Con) was chosen as council leader in January 2017 having been elected as a councillor in 2015 and serving on the Cabinet for the period 2015 to 2017. Deputy council leader Oliver Hemsley (Con) will take up the position until a new leader is appointed.
Coun Mathias took on the role of leader at short notice and at what was an extremely challenging time for the Council.
Speaking about his decision to resign, Coun Mathias said: “I have been extremely proud to serve Rutland, both as ward member for Oakham South East and council leader. I did not stand for election as a councillor in 2015 with any leadership aspirations. In fact, nothing was further from my mind. I was and continue to be incredibly passionate about Rutland, Oakham and my ward.
“At the outset of last year there was a need for someone to step forward and lead the council and I felt compelled to do so. Having undertaken this vital role for the past year I now understand just how challenging it can be. The time required to fulfil the role, and particularly time taken away from family, is also considerable.
“I have also been aware of just how challenging it can be to champion projects that I strongly feel are right for our county but which have not garnered support from the wider community. I now want to focus on family and living in what is a beautiful county.
“I have every confidence in Coun Hemsley, who has been an exceptional deputy and will lead the council well until the appointment of the next council leader.
“I also know that officers and elected members will continue to do an outstanding job for Rutland under new leadership.”
Coun Kenneth Bool, Chairman of Rutland County Council, said: “We are all extremely sorry to see Coun Mathias resign. Coun Mathias stepped into the breach in 2017 and took on the Leadership at a difficult time for the Council. The death of Roger Begy and the departure of Terry King due to ill health meant that the council lost many years of leadership and experience. Recognising this, Councillor Mathias took on the role of Leader and for that I am immensely grateful.”
Helen Briggs, chief executive of Rutland County Council, said: “The contribution Councillor Mathias has made both as a ward member and as leader of the council has been significant. Working together with his cabinet and officers he was able to bring stability at an extremely challenging time and provided a clear focus on the way forward. The benefits of much of the work he has done for the council and the county will be seen many years into the future. He will be missed by everyone working at Rutland County Council.
“All council business will continue as normal and a leadership election will take place at a special council meeting - the date of which is to be confirmed. Details of arrangements to fill the ward vacancy in Oakham South East will follow in due course. In the meantime, Coun Ben Callaghan is the second ward member for Oakham South East and will handle all ward business in the intervening period.
“In accordance with our constitution, Councillor Hemsley, Deputy Leader will assume the full powers of the leader until a new Leader is appointed. Announcements about who will assume Deputy Leader responsibilities and the reallocation of Portfolio responsibilities will also be made in due course.”