Cllr Lynden Stowe has announced that he will be stepping down as Leader of Cotswold District Council when Members gather for their annual meeting on16 May.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to lead the Council. The Conservative group will now elect a new leader and I look forward to a smooth handing over to my successor. When I stand down as Leader, I will continue to represent the Campden &Vale ward, but being honest I’m ‘looking forward’ to having a few more days off and devoting more time to my business interests, which now employ 70 people in the Cotswolds.”
Cllr Stowe has led the Council since 2006 and reflects on 11 years at the helm:
“When I took over as Leader from Cllr Julie Girling in 2006, I originally planned to do the job for about three years and then hand over the baton to someone else. I have obviously stayed a lot longer than I ever imagined, principally because I enjoyed the many challenges which the role presented.
“During the last 11 years I have always done what I thought was best for the people of the Cotswolds to ensure that it is a great place to live, work and visit. Like my predecessor, one of my key aims was to keep down the cost of Council Tax, and I take great pride in knowing that bills for council tax payers are about the same as they were when I first became Leader – in fact, in real terms, residents have enjoyed a reduction of 33%. We’ve also frozen charges for car parking and garden waste collections for about six years now. It’s important that we enable taxpayers to keep as much money as possible in their pockets – and, hopefully, these price freezes have allowed residents to spend more with local businesses.
“The reason why the Council has been able to keep Council Tax and other charges down – during a period when government funding has been reduced drastically – is simply because we have become one of the most efficient local authorities in the country. The advent of joint working with other authorities – most notably West Oxfordshire – has enabled us to make significant savings without any detriment to the quality of our services. We are now working jointly with four authorities and we can call on an impressive pool of resources and expertise while also boosting our purchasing power when negotiating for goods and services.
“One great source of pride for me personally is the increase in the resilience of our communities across the District since the 2007 floods. Working with the County Council and other agencies, we have helped to fund many large and small flood prevention schemes which leaves us all much better prepared for extremely adverse weather. There is always more to do, but there is no doubt that we are safer.
“I was also very pleased to help oversee the introduction of the council-owned environmental services company Ubico Ltd in 2012. This has been a huge success and the company is on course to deliver savings of £6 million in its first five years of trading. Ubico started off as a joint venture between Cotswold and Cheltenham Borough Council and is now poised to serve nearly all the councils in Gloucestershire as well as West Oxfordshire.
“Over the years I have been very impressed by the willingness of residents to help us achieve high recycling totals. We continue to be the best performing recycling authority in Gloucestershire, and communities invariably respond well to new campaigns. Hopefully we all recognise we live in an extremely beautiful part of England, and that our local communities are committed to maintaining this magnificent heritage for future generations.
“On a similar theme, I have been struck by the welcome rise in sustainable tourism across the Cotswolds during my time as Leader. Many people’s livelihoods are linked to the tourism industry, and those involved in the sector have constantly driven up standards of accommodation, catering and attractions. The area is a truly world class visitor destination, and an increasing number of tourists from around the world are sampling our hospitality and fantastic local produce.”