A politician currently on police bail has been confirmed as the new leader of Lancashire County Council.Advertisement
Geoff Driver’s Conservative group swept to power in the May elections and during Thursday’s council meeting he was confirmed as leader.
Mr Driver, who represents the Preston North division, is understood to be one of four men arrested on Monday – and released on bail by Lancashire Police – in connection with their long-running One Connect investigation.
The Tories voted to back their leader, with all Labour, Lib Dem and other county councillors, voting against the appoint of Mr Driver as leader.
Councillor Driver said: “We have one purpose as an organisation and that is to serve the people of Lancashire.
“The council clearly faces financial challenges and our first priority is to ensure that we develop a way forward that will enable us to continue to provide the services that our residents need.
“That will include looking at where we spend the money that we do have, to ensure that the front-line services valued by our residents are protected.
“We are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work to deliver on our promises.”
Read more: What the local election results mean for Preston
Mr Driver inherits a £200million deceit with major savings needed by 2020 – although his party has pledged to immediately reverse the decision made by the Labour administration to close a number of libraries and childrens’ centres in a cost-saving drive.
The new cabinet members for the county council have also been confirmed, with a new man in charge of what must be the most high profile position for Prestonians – responsibility for highways and transports.
– County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader (county councillor for Ribble Valley North East)
– County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children, young people and schools (county councillor for Lancaster Rural East)
– County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport (county councillor for Chorley Rural West)
– County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development and planning (county councillor for Moss Side & Farington)
– County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services (county councillor for St Annes North)
– County Councillor Viv Taylor, cabinet member for health and wellbeing (county councillor for Wyre Rural Central)
– County Councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services (county councillor for South Ribble West)
Read more: Preston results in the Lancashire County Council elections
County councillor Driver is due to take cabinet decisions about resources, which include council functions such as finance, communications, organisational development and HR.