Cllr Sir Raymond Puddifoot MBE, London’s longest-serving council Leader, has announced that he is stepping down after over 21 years of service to the London Borough of Hillingdon.
Cllr Puddifoot took the reins in 2000, just two years after his first election to the council. He becomes the latest long-serving London council leader to step down after Peter John in Southwark, Stephen Alambritis in Merton and Tony Newman in Croydon all departed the fray in recent weeks. Whilst Peter John’s resignation had been a long time coming, those of Alambritis, Newman and Puddifoot have all come from nowhere inside the last month.
It would appear we are seeing a changing of the guard in the capital as London’s seemingly ever-present local figures make way for a new generation.
In Southwark, a handful of potential leaders emerged – none a particular surprise according to council insiders. In Hillingdon however, it is likely to be a more open race after long-standing Deputy Leader Cllr David Simmonds was elected as a Member of Parliament in the December 2019 General Election.
Regardless of who comes out on top, after so many years at the helm, Cllr Puddifoot leaves huge shoes to fill.
So who to replace Cllr Puddifoot? Given that, in Westminster terms, Hillingdon can boast amongst its local MPs the Prime Minister over in Uxbridge & South Ruislip, can it be assumed that any new Leader will be in step with all policies emanating from Downing Street? Interest will surely focus on the position held by the new Leader on the two transport infrastructure issues that have dominated Hillingdon’s landscape in recent years, i.e. the potential expansion of Heathrow Airport and HS2. Watch this space.
Cllr Puddifoot will formally leave office at the council meeting scheduled for the 14th January 2021 and will not seek re-election in the 2022 elections given his decision has been taken with family reasons in mind.
After such a long career, earlier this year, it’s also worth acknowledging that he was in receipt of a knighthood via the 2019 dissolution honours, this to add to the MBE bestowed upon him in 2012 for his service to local government and the Hillingdon community. We wish him and all of the other Leaders standing down well as they move onto pastures new or a well earned retirement. .
Finally, when the starting pistol sounds for the Conservative leadership contest in Hillingdon, we at Cratus will be watching with interest and look forward to working with whoever emerges to pick up the mantle.
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