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Canterbury City Council elects new leader: Conservative Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding

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A new council leader has been elected after his predecessor was ousted from the role by fellow members.

Hopeful they have chosen the right fit for the hard position, Tories at Canterbury City Council believe Ben Fitter-Harding is the man to steer them out of the Covid aftermath.

Ben Fitter-Harding is the new council leader
Ben Fitter-Harding is the new council leader

Up against no other candidates, the Chestfield ward councillor was announced as the authority's new leader this evening.

He has replaced Cllr Rob Thomas (Con) - who held the top position for 16 months.

Discontent over his leadership had gained momentum in recent months, with rebel Tories defeating him by a landslide margin in a no-confidence vote last month.

He has now been replaced as leader of both the Conservative group and the city council.

Cllr Thomas, who was not present at tonight's virtual vote, will still remain a member of the authority as a representative for Chartham and Stone Street.

Cllr Rob Thomas is longer leader of the council
Cllr Rob Thomas is longer leader of the council

A full council meeting this evening saw members vote for Cllr Fitter-Harding to become leader, and Cllr Rachel Cornac his deputy.

Despite abstentions and objections from opposition councillors, both were elected into their new roles thanks to the Conservative majority.

Speaking to the KentOnline two weeks ago, the new leader said he believed a fresh approach was needed and stressed he was the man for the job.

“In order for us to move forward, we need someone who can communicate and look at the bigger picture with a vision for a district that is crying out for clear direction," he said.

“It will require more technology-driven innovation and the ability to envisage what the future of local government and its services will look like.”

“It will look different but that doesn’t mean it has to be worse.”

Meanwhile, veteran Tory councillor Pat Todd has become the Lord Mayor for the third time, and Ann Dekker the Sheriff of Canterbury.

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

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