James Browne elected Elmbridge Conservative Leader

Councillor James Browne has been elected Leader of the Elmbridge Conservative Group and will succeed Tim Oliver, who is stepping aside to focus on leading Surrey County Council.

James has been an Elmbridge Borough Councillor since 2008, representing Cobham where he lives with his wife Claire and their two daughters – he is also the Cabinet Member for Planning.

As leader of the largest party at Elmbridge Council, he is expected to be appointed Leader of the Council at the next Full Council meeting on Wednesday 27 February, with Councillor Ruth Mitchell taking the position of Deputy Leader.

Speaking after his appointment on Monday night, James paid tribute to his predecessor Tim Oliver’s “unflappable cool and calm confidence” and the way he had steered the Conservative group back to power at Elmbridge Council in 2018 after two years in opposition.

James said: “Tim has been an excellent leader of the council and I have learnt a lot from him. I intend to provide a seamless transition and to be open, inclusive and fully focused on the challenges this council will face in the coming years.

“Our financial position is likely to remain difficult – but with careful management and a laser like focus on eliminating waste, I believe we can continue to deliver improved services for our residents and support our local voluntary services.

“Elmbridge is one of the best places in the country in which to live with a great quality of life – but I am acutely aware that it can be difficult to buy or rent in our borough if you are on an average wage. It will be important that we provide more affordable homes and starter homes, while also doing everything we can to protect the green belt.”

New Deputy Leader, Ruth Mitchell, is a retired banker, keen gardener and a Hersham Village Ward councillor who was first elected to Elmbridge Borough Council in 2010.

She said:  “I am really honoured that my fellow Councillors have selected me to be their Deputy Leader. As Cabinet Member for Resources I have far reaching responsibilities and a broad knowledge of council activities and look forward to supporting James in his new role.”