New leader waits in the wings at trouble-hit council

Coun Peter Mullineaux at a recent Clean for the Queen event in Leyland
Coun Peter Mullineaux at a recent Clean for the Queen event in Leyland
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The new leader of South Ribble Council has been chosen - but he will have to wait a little while for the keys to the office.

Councillor Peter Mullineaux was voted leader of the local Conservative group at a special meeting on Tuesday night, but will not become leader of the council until it is ratified at a full council meeting.

Until then, Councillor Colin Clarke, who was made interim leader after the resignation of Coun Margaret Smith last month, will remain as council leader.

“It’s a bit of a funny situation, but it all needs to be officially ratified”, said Coun Mullineaux, who has been on the council since 2003.

“The next full council meeting is probably not for another eight weeks, and that’s quite a long time, so I’m looking to see whether we can call a special meeting in three or four weeks, depending on people’s holiday committments. If we can, then hopefully we can put people’s minds at rest.”

Coun Mullineaux, who represents the Samlesbury and Walton ward, and has been a County Councillor, said he had “always wanted” the role of leader, and was keen to improve the situation at the council, which has been rocked by a taxi licensing scandal.

He said: “I was deputy leader for four years and I’ve always been in the situation of taking control.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted and I’ve got a lot to offer in terms of experience.”

He added: “The council’s had a lot of negatives recently, so hopefully we can start turning that around and unifying not just the group, but the full council.”

As well as Coun Smith stepping as council leader because of ill health, chief executive Mike Nuttall also resigned last week “to pursue new opportunities”.