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Council financial expert is ready to stand down
SWINDON Council’s finance supremo is to resign next month to focus more on his family and job – only days after leader Rod Bluh announced his departure.
Coun Mark Edwards (Con, Priory Vale), who was appointed by Coun Bluh as cabinet member for finance in 2008, used his budget speech in February to warn of tough times ahead, adding: “The challenge is far from over.”
This comes after Coun Bluh announced he would step down at the full council meeting on April 11 following a record seven continuous years in charge of the authority.
The Conservative group is meeting on Monday to choose a new leader.
Coun Edwards, 43, who was first elected in 2006 and will continue as a backbencher, is a father-of-four and travels the world in his job as a buyer for oil firm BP. Last year, the Adver covered his wedding to Debbie Baylies, a former Conservative councillor for the old St Philip ward.
Speaking to the Adver from Singapore yesterday, Coun Edwards said he originally intended to quit last year but thought it more appropriate now as there was a change of leadership. He also played down suggestions he was leaving due to frustration with decision-making at the council.
He said: “The reason for me standing down is that I have a busy personal life and a busy job.
“I think Swindon deserves better than someone who’s not in the country full time.
“I just cannot give enough hours in the day. “Having said that, I think it’s incredibly difficult for councils such as Swindon to deliver a long-term budget when a lot of it is determined by a political agenda. “There’s a degree of frustration. It’s not the reason I’m resigning.
“We have to find a more collaborative way of delivering the budget rather than on political lines. It needs to be collaboration rather than antagonism.”
Coun Des Moffatt, the Labour group’s finance lead, said: “We talked in private about what we should be doing but neither of us persuaded our respective groups about 2013/14. “That doesn’t mean our groups were wrong, it only means we didn’t persuade them.
“I completely believe he’s stepping back from the front-line because of his family and work commitments. “He has a family to bring up and a living to earn.”