Glowing tributes have been paid to Derbyshire Dales District Council’s longest serving councillor, who has stepped down as the authority’s Leader.
Councillor Lewis Rose OBE is the last remaining founder Member of the authority, dating back to Local Government Reorganisation in the early 1970s, and has been Leader of the Conservative group for the past 45 years.
For most of that time has also been Leader or Deputy Leader of the Council. The Carsington Water ward member is replaced as Leader by Councillor Garry Purdy, member for Masson ward, who chaired the council’s Planning Committee in the previous administration.
The new Deputy Leader is Chatsworth ward member Councillor Susan Hobson, replacing Albert Catt, who lost the Doveridge seat at the 2 May local council elections.
Originally a member of the old Ashbourne Rural District Council, Councillor Rose was elected to West Derbyshire Dales District Council on its formation in 1974 and holds the distinction of proposing it was renamed Derbyshire Dales in 1998.
Awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 1995 for his political and public service, Councillor Rose has served on a vast number of organisations on behalf of the Derbyshire Dales, including the Local Government Association General Assembly, the District Councils’ Network, East Midlands Councils, Derbyshire Economic Partnership, Derby and Derbyshire Strategic Leadership Forum, Peak District Partnership and he was a board member of the Sheffield City Region.
New Leader Councillor Purdy told last Thursday’s full council meeting: “During his many years as Leader Lewis has been a major player on the Derbyshire, East Midlands and national scene and has always been passionate in promoting the cause of small rural districts such as the Derbyshire Dales.
“He has never been afraid to speak up for the Derbyshire Dales on the many different forums he has served on and he has been keen to take his own party to task if their actions had an adverse effect on the Dales.
“I think you will agree with me ladies and gentlemen that's an extremely fantastic service and dedication to public and political life.”
Leader of the Council Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Steve Flitter said: “It’s not just being a councillor, it's being a Leader of the Council and I don't think a lot of people realise that is a humongous task for anyone to take on.
“It's because of Cllr Rose's handling of the council that we do get on as members and we do get on doing things for the people of the Derbyshire Dales.”
Labour group Leader Councillor Mike Ratcliffe was equally complimentary about his old adversary. “Very few councillors of all parties can claim to have been not only at the birth of Derbyshire Dales as a district authority but to have played a decisive and significant role in nurturing it to maturity and helping to endow it with the profile it has today,” he said.
“Councillor Rose is a shrewd and politically aware operator. He has been very courteous and diplomatic in his engagement with others. He has always sought his best for the residents of Derbyshire Dales. He enjoys debate but is never dogmatically confrontational. He has brought his skills to the table of a large number of East Midlands partnership organisations and Derbyshire Dales has risen in stature as a consequence.”
Responding to the tributes before a standing ovation from his fellow councillors, Councillor Rose said: “I am lost for words. Can I say that I have enjoyed - and I'm using that word very advisedly - my term in office and in a sense it is a relief to be able to pass that mantle on to others because things do have to move on.
“But I do agree with both Councillor Flitter and Councillor Ratcliffe about the political rapport that we've had. We've had our differences but the main emphasis has always been doing what we can do best for the whole of Derbyshire Dales, whoever they are and whichever part they represent.
“Those in government tend to forget about us poor devils at local level who are closer to the people and understand their needs and desires much better than our Parliamentarians do on their lofty heights. But I do hope that Derbyshire Dales continues to look after Derbyshire Dales and continues to be well recognised within the region and that we can all work together despite our differences to achieve that objective.
“I can only say to all and everyone both here and before a big thank you for putting their trust in me and I'm very grateful for the way you've expressed that. It is tremendous and a nice way to retire, but I shall intervene from time to time!”
Councillor Tony Morley has been elected as Derbyshire Dales District Council’s civic leader in the coming year, a chain of office Councillor Rose held in 1979/80. A district councillor since 2015, Councillor Morley succeeds Jean Monks as Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales, and will represent the district at well over 50 engagements in the county in 2019/20.
Councillor Morley, who will also chair the council’s Commercial Board, will be supported by Calver ward member Councillor Helen Froggatt, who has been elected Deputy Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales. Councillor Sir Richard Fitzherbert is once again Council Chairman, leading full meetings of the authority, and Vice Chairman is Councillor Andrew Shirley.
Other appointments for 2019/20 include Councillor Sue Bull as chairman of the District Council’s Governance & Resources policy committee, and Councillor Chris Furness as Chairman of the Community & Environment policy committee. The Planning Committee will be chaired by Councillor Jason Atkin.