Tory leader to step down after almost four decades

Coun Ken Hudson
Coun Ken Hudson
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The Tory leader on Preston Council has announced he is to step aside after almost four decades as a councillor.

Former Mayor and ex-council leader Coun Ken Hudson, who joined the council in 1978, said he will not be standing in next month’s election.

The Preston Rural North representative said he would now concentrate on spending time with his family and on his canal boat, and wanted to make way for someone “younger”.

Coun Hudson said: “I’ve decided after 36 years to call it a day and let a younger element take over. When you get to 71 it’s time to decide that it’s somebody else’s task.”

Coun Hudson, who lives on a farm in Inglewhite, joined Preston Council in 1978 as a “voice in the wilderness” to represent rural communities, and said he had fought for rural areas for the last 36 years.

He was Mayor in 1993 to 1994, and was made leader of the Conservative group in 1999, before becoming council leader from 2007 to 2011.

However, Coun Hudson said the “high point” of his service was building the Ribble Link, which was opened in 2002, and he was later awarded an MBE for his services to inland waterways.

He said: “Building the Ribble Link has got to be the high point. But everything is a highlight with me.

“The whole thing has been a good experience, but now, because of funding cuts, local government has got quite a lot harder. You used to be able to get things done for your residents much easier than you can now.”

He said he had fought hard against proposed housing developments in the north of Preston, but said: “I just feel like King Canute and the tide has come in and I just can’t stop it, so it’s time to go.

“We fought all those houses at Longridge and lost, and the tide of house building is just enveloping the whole of the north of Preston.”

Coun Hudson, who is due to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary later this year, said he would now spend more time with his wife, Sue, and his daughters and grandchildren.

He said: “My family is going to be my focus.

“And I’ve only got another few years of boating left - and there’s over 2,000 miles you can go at three mph.”