Geoff Harper pays tribute to colleagues as he bows out as Fenland Council Leader
COUNCIL Leader Geoff Harper bowed out of frontline politics with a gentle, warm speech that made little reference to the fall out from email-gate. The past five years as Leader of Fenland District Council have been stimulating, at times aggravating but m
COUNCIL Leader Geoff Harper bowed out of frontline politics with a gentle, warm speech that made little reference to the fall out from email-gate.
"The past five years as Leader of Fenland District Council have been stimulating, at times aggravating but most of all rewarding," he told colleagues at last Thursday's full council meeting.
In a list of those he wished to thank, he began by paying tribute to the "collegiate Cabinet who have all delivered".
He singled out for praise out his former deputy leader, Cllr Fred Yeulett, removed by a vote of no confidence earlier this month.
Cllr Harper paid tribute to Cllr Yeulett "for his uncompromising support" and thanked his Conservative colleagues for their ongoing support "not without debate on occasions."
Officers, too, came in for praise their "can do" attitude, and he praised the cheerful and hard working staff that had been a joy to work with.
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The chief executive and his senior team had offered him a "sound working relationship that drove our success" but finally he thanked his wife "who has put up with a political junkie for 45 years".
Cllr Harper spoke of his long association with politics, beginning in the 1951 General Election campaign, and he has worked as a Conservative Party agent, a senior executive at Tory Central Office, and for 10 years as a "promoter of democracy in territories formerly behind the Iron Curtain".
As a Fenland councillor for 11 years, he said the council's achievements had been formidable, enjoying, for example, staff satisfaction ratings of 91 per cent against a national average of 41 per cent.
He was also proud of the council's financial record but "most of all we have achieved the confidence of the council tax payers and the voters who gave us 39 out of 40 Conservative councillors and renewed that confidence at subsequent by elections".