Straight Talking with Ian Mean

Will Mark Win the Race for Gloucestershire County Council’s Leadership?

Posted in Uncategorized by ianmean on May 11, 2010

Barry Dare, arguably one of the most powerful men in the county as Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, is hanging up his hat from the top job.

Blunt speaking but fair, Barry aged 73, has kept a steady arm on the Conservative tiller while steering the county council for the last eight years as Conservative Group Leader, five of them as Leader of the council.

A very principled man, who would have been a very good Tory MP, Barry Dare has an authority and charm which made him a good leader.

He won control of the county council for the Tories in 2005 and presided over consistently low levels of council tax in an organisation which now has a £1 billion turnover.

Who will succeed him?

That will be decided on Wednesday by the county’s Conservative group and my money is on Councillor Mark Hawthorne to take over.

I think he has shown some excellent leadership over the last few months, particularly on helping to rescue what looked like a disaster for the language immersion centre at Blackfriars. He pulled that out of the fire.

But he has also ruffled feathers among his Conservative colleagues with his blunt speaking and directness. I can’t see a problem with that personally but it could possibly cost him the top job.

I also understand that there are now three other runners in the race for the leader’s post.

Two seem to be non-starters but Will Windsor- Clive could come up on the rails and pip Mark Hawthorne at the post. What he has going for him is more diplomatic skills than Mark currently has and a lot more experience. Will is pragmatic, a businessman who has overseen the fire and rescue service particularly and done a good job.

In my view, Jackie Hall, the current deputy leader, would have made an ideal successor to Barry but she did not want the job. A great pity because she is an enthusiastic, no nonsense councilor who is a good people person.

What our county council needs now more than ever is strong leadership. The new leader needs to be single-minded in the huge job they face of cutting staff and budgets while at the same time not denuding the county of vital, front line services.

The new leader must be prepared to take along their fellow Conservatives and be visionary. In terms of priorities, they have to deliver a huge change programme which not only includes large staff cuts but deal with a growing, ageing population in the county and the controversial waste issue.

I believe that Mark Hawthorne will be able to deliver on those issues, but it remains to be seen whether his fellow Tories will trust him to do so.

Barry Dare was a born leader and would have made an excellent MP, but his anti-capital punishment views probably put paid to any political ambitions he may have had.

Latterly, he has been in poor health and we all wish him and his wife, Wendy well. This is a big job—just like running a huge company– and it needed a big man to keep firm control—Barry Dare, a Middle England Tory, was that man.

His shoes will be big to fill.

2 Responses

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  1. trollhunterx said, on May 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Jackie Hall would have been a good choice.

  2. John Doherty said, on May 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I thoroughly agree with Ian Means view that Mark Hawthorne would make an excellent leader as he is a gifted speaker with a resolved determination to get on with the task of regenerating Gloucester which after all is the County Seat. Were I to be asked to make a calculated guess I would say Mark is Jackie Halls protégé on today’s political scene. Little did I realise Barry Dare to be 73 years of age. Mr Dare has a fine record of humanity and I salute his effort of compassion throughout his tenure in office and I wish him a long happy retirement in his beloved Cotswold landscape


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