One day suspended, the next elected as leader...24 hours was a long time in politics for South Ribble Conservative Mary Green.
And the new Tory chief admits her first job will be to heal the wounds which have ripped apart her beloved party over the last two years.
Coun Green triumphed in a straight fight for the job with former leader Coun Margaret Smith (inset) at the South Ribble group’s AGM. Current leader Coun Peter Mullineaux made a last minute decision not to stand for re-election before the vote was taken.
Now his successor has begun building a “strong” team around her to tackle one of the toughest jobs in local politics - ending the squabbling and in-fighting which has seen South Ribble Tories reduced to almost pantomime status in recent months.
Coun Caroline Moon has been elected deputy leader and other top party jobs will go to councillors Mike Nathan, Alan Ogilvie, Susan Snape and Karen Walton.
“It’s a big job,” said former Mayor Coun Green. “But I feel I have a strong team around me and we should be able to work together as a group and move the council forward. My main aim it to unite the group - I think that’s vital.
“It will be hard work. We want change, we want fresh ideas and we need to unify. It’s about teamwork now. It has not been a team for a while and it needs to be a team for the sake of all our residents.”
It is understood that Coun Green won the vote by an almost two to one margin from Coun Smith, who resigned as leader in August 2016 in the wake of the taxi licensing scandal. Coun Mullineaux will remain as council leader until the authority’s annual meeting on May 15.
Coun Green and Coun Moon were both suspended by the Tory group recently after abstaining from a crucial vote. But they were re-admitted just 24 hours before the AGM following the intervention of regional party officials.