Neil Clarke returns to lead Rushcliffe Borough Council after six-year absence from top job

Councillor Neil Clarke (Con) is leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

The new leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council has said it is an ‘honour’ to take on the role six years after stepping back from the same job.

Cllr Neil Clarke (Con) was re-selected by the authority to lead the council for another four years after the Conservatives held control of the council at the May 4 election.

It comes after the Radcliffe on Trent councillor stepped back from leading the council in 2017 following a 12-year stint at the helm of the authority.

Speaking at the time, he said the council was “entering a new chapter” which meant it was time for someone else to hold the role.

However, his successor Simon Robinson announced prior to the May 4 poll that he was standing down and not running again for elected office.

Cllr Clarke was selected as the Conservative Group’s choice to lead the council on May 15 and was confirmed as the authority’s leader at the full council meeting on Thursday (May 25).

On his return to leadership, Cllr Clarke told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s a great honour to have been elected once again as the council leader, I was leader previously for 12 years.

“There’s a lot to do, the council has already achieved a lot and it’s very well-respected and thought of.

“But we need to keep working hard for our residents, they expect it to be a good place and, certainly, I hope we will be maintaining that it is a great place to live.”

It follows the Conservative Group narrowly securing a majority at the election by winning 25 out of 44 seats on the council.

This was down from the 26 it secured four years earlier and came amidst a three-seat gain for Labour to return nine councillors.

The Rushcliffe Independents won two seats, five were secured by unaligned independents, the Green Party won two and the Liberal Democrats – who lost three seats compared with 2019 – won one.

It means the Tories were able to maintain control of Rushcliffe, which is now the only Conservative-led district or borough council in the county.

During the full council meeting, Cllr Clarke also confirmed his cabinet for the new administration.

Cllr Abby Brennan (Con), who represents Radcliffe on Trent, was appointed deputy leader and portfolio holder for business and growth.

Cllr Davinder Virdi (Con), who represents Gamston, is now portfolio holder for finance.

Cllr Jonathan Wheeler (Con), who also represents Gamston, will take on the transformation, leisure and wellbeing portfolio.

The environment and safety portfolio was handed to Cllr Rob Inglis (Con), who represents the Keyworth and Wolds ward.

And the third Radcliffe on Trent member, Cllr Roger Upton (Con), was appointed as portfolio holder for housing and planning.

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