Cornwall Council 'old guard' out as Tories select rebel darling Fiona
Ousted Cornwall Council chief Alec Robertson and the last of the Tory "old guard" in Cornwall was swept away as grassroots councillors opted for female leadership.
Fiona Ferguson – the "darling" of the rebel faction within the Conservative group which ultimately cost Mr Robertson his job – has been named the group leader in the county.
The election on Friday evening brings to an end months of bitter and divisive infighting and also elevated two other women to senior positions in the council group.
Troon and Beacon's Morwenna Williams has been made treasurer and Joan Symons, from St Ives, secretary, which means women outnumber men in senior roles.
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Mrs Ferguson, a Truro councillor who worked as a partner at law firm Slaughter and May prior to election, easily defeated former deputy leader Steve Double, a Robertson supporter who resigned his cabinet position following the leader's sacking in October.
A source at the meeting told the Western Morning News Mrs Ferguson "won by a mile", though the result was not formally announced, and said the group could now move on after the divisions of the past few months.
"Fiona said she wants to listen to everybody and get them more involved," the source added. "Hopefully this means there will be more democracy."
Mr Robertson lost his job after refusing to back down on controversial privatisation plans, but initially refused to give up the party leadership.
He was replaced as council leader by fellow Tory Jim Currie, who intends to step down at the election in May.
Mrs Ferguson has said she does not want to lead the council, leaving the door ajar for Mr Robertson, who told members at Kingsley Village he would not stand as leader of "this group" again but did not rule out a return to the top council job.
Dave Biggs is deputy leader, and there was a return for Scott Mann, who spectacularly began the demise of Mr Robertson when he resigned as his deputy earlier this year. Mr Mann is now party whip.