|Just where will Reading Tories find a successful leader?|
With the present incumbent Tim Harris standing down from the council rather than face certain defeat in Church ward next May, it's probably time to look across the benches at who is left, who is capable and who simply doesn't figure in the divided and factional Tory group.
Caversham - Andrew Cumpsty - up for election in May - uncertain to stand, but even if he does and wins, no return for this former Leader who tasted power for just one year. NO
Caversham - Tom Stanway - up in 2015, but a precarious choice if Labour win in the ward in May. Charming, funny chap, probably too nice to be leader of that group. NO
Kentwood - James Anderson - cuts little presence in the Council Chamber and as about as effective as his namesake on the recent Ashes tour. NO
Kentwood - Jenny Rynn - recent Mayor who often seemed a bit flustered, is up for election in May in a ward where Labour won last time. NO
Mapledurham - Isobel Ballsdon - seems to have to write everything out before she speaks in the Council Chamber, and more than a tad brittle, so unlikely leadership material. NO
Peppard - Jane Stanford-Beale - a relative newbie, who hasn't really shone (but, fair play, none of the opposition has over the past couple of years) but could be a dark horse. LONG SHOT
Peppard - Richard Willis - easily the Tory's best performer (with Jeanette Skeats) by a considerable margin. But with a reputation for dividing opinions within the Tory group and a rumour that he will be off to run a Bed & Breakfast in Bournemouth when his term ends in 2015, he may not be a long term prospect. Interim leader perhaps? POSSIBLE - TOO LATE?
Thames - Ed Hopper - another relative new comer, who is quietly building a good reputation in the Council Chamber. Bright, courteous, and with some humour (lacking in so many of the others) his time will come, only when? POSSIBLE - TOO EARLY?
Thames - Jeanette Skeats - experienced, fair, funny and human (a rare Tory quality), you would think the Tories would beg her to be their next leader: perhaps they have and she has said "no"! POSSIBLE - CAN'T BE BOTHERED?
Thames - David Stevens - sure to be re-elected this May, is another to command a deal of respect across the benches. Sometimes gets stuck on broadcast rather than listen mode, but can't be ruled out. POSSIBLE - SHORT ON CHARISMA?
Tilehurst - Sandra Vickers - another relatively new councillor still finding her way. Solid back-bencher material. NO
So, one from Stanford-Beale, Willis, Hopper, Skeats or Stevens.
More next week.