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“Eleven years as the Leader of Lichfield District Council is a long time by anyone’s reckoning. But we are now at a stage where the district is ready to move forward. Everything is coming together, from the Bird Street car park through to Friarsgate, and the vision we had is now coming together. But I feel it is the right time to hand over the baton of realising our ambitions to the next generation. “I had a decision to make about whether to continue for another year and hand over at the time of the next council election, but I think it’s only right to give a new Leader the chance to outline his policies and views and prepare for that election. “But I won’t be leaving Lichfield District Council altogether. I am staying on as a councillor and will support my successor in any way I can.”Cllr Smith will leave his post on May 11 and no decision has yet been made about who will replace him. But the outgoing Leader believes whoever steps into his shoes will need to have the courage of their convictions. He explained:
“Leading a council is definitely a white knuckle ride. You need to have the courage to stick to your policies at all times because having the courage to do so opens up opportunities. A number of local authorities lose their way when they depart from their vision.”Much focus on the success or failure of Cllr Smith’s reign will be put at the doorstep of the Friarsgate development. But for the man himself, it will be other things that define his time at the helm of Lichfield District Council as a success. He said:
“As I said to the council when I announced my decision, if a decision we have made has saved just one job in the district then we have saved one family from catastrophy. That is something which I feel we have to be proud of.”