Daventry residents will have a new district council leader for the first time in more than 20 years after Councillor Chris Millar’s replacement was confirmed last night.
Councillor Richard Auger will take over the reins on November 1, having seen off three other candidates to replace the longstanding leader in a Conservative ballot.
Having been a councillor since 2015, when he was elected for the Welford ward, Councillor Auger has also served as portfolio holder for housing and environmental health since 2017. He is also a county councillor for the Daventry West division, and a former police commander.
He will be assisted by a new deputy, Councillor Adam Brown, who is also a county councillor for the Bugbrooke ward and is replacing outgoing deputy Councillor Liz Griffin.
Councillor Millar took over as leader in August 1999, but said the decision for both himself and Councillor Griffin to step down was made as neither will stand for the new unitary authority that will replace Daventry District Council in 2021.
Speaking at his last full council meeting as leader last night (October 10), Councillor Millar said: “I’m announcing my demise at the end of this month. I just want to say that it has been a real privilege to lead this council for as long as I have. When I started I thought I would do well to last until the following April, as we had been in opposition before. I was very honoured to be given that position and I didn’t think I would still be here in 2019.
“Myself and Liz won’t be standing for the unitary, and I think it’s very important to be represented by two people who will be standing for it. It’s important to have a strong voice going into that process, and we have two very strong individuals who will hold the line and represent this area, and they are the right people to take this council forward.”
Labour leader Councillor Wendy Randall also wished the outgoing duo well in their new roles as backbench councillors. She said: “I would like to wish you all the best of luck. I did hear antics about how things used to be run, and for a while there was no-one to question you in the opposition. So I hope I’ve given you some work to do! I hope our new leader and deputy will allow us to talk and listen to us as you have.”
Councillor Auger was among many to pay tribute to the outgoing leadership team, saying: “I have watched and admired how Chris and Liz have worked, and I hope that Adam and myself can have that same rapport. We want to do a good job and we will need the support of the whole chamber, from our friends on the left and in the centre. So let’s start a new chapter.”
New deputy Councillor Brown, who has only been a district councillor since May 2016 representing the Weedon ward, said they had ‘big boots to fill’. He added: “They have been absolutely phenomenal in their roles.”