Councillors have today elected Heather Smith as the new leader of Northamptonshire County Council following the decision of Cllr Jim Harker OBE to step down from the role after 11 years service.
Cllr Smith, who has lived in the Oundle area for more than 30 years and has served as a County Councillor for nine years, has spoken of her pride in being elected to the post in what she called a time of ‘challenges and historic opportunities.’
In accepting the leadership Cllr Smith paid tribute to Cllr Harker and said she looked forward to the challenges facing her in her new role.
She said: “I am proud to be elected leader of this council. Some might say with the challenges local government in the round is facing such a task is a curse rather than a blessing. I couldn’t disagree more.
“Here in Northamptonshire we sit at the very heart of the country. We are at the heart of its transport infrastructure and as such we are therefore at the heart of elements of its economy and in many respects we are at the heart of its heritage and history. It is a great county and one I am proud to be leader of.
'Bold and innovative'
“Here at Northamptonshire County Council we have a growing national reputation for the way in which we have tackled the significant financial challenges we have faced. We have put forward bold and innovative new ways of working and in our Next Generation Council model are pursuing one of the most exciting and profoundly pioneering approaches to the delivery of public services. The opportunity to lead such a transformation is one I look forward to with relish.”
During her seven years as a cabinet member Cllr Smith has held key cabinet portfolios of transport and customer and community services. Most recently she acted as deputy leader whilst also holding the children’s services portfolio and overseeing the huge improvements made in that area.