York council leader set to stand down

City of York Council leader Ian Gillies
3 Mar 2019 @ 5.02 pm
| News, Politics

City of York Council leader Ian Gillies is set to bow out of local politics.

YorkMix understands that Cllr Gillies, who leads the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition that runs the authority, will not stand for re-election in May.

Cllr Gillies is expected to make a statement confirming the news on Monday.

It will bring to an end a 12-year career serving City of York Council, as well as his second period as Conservative group leader.

And it means York will have a new council leader after the elections on 2 May whatever the result.

Stay on till election

Council leader and deputy – Ian Gillies and Andrew Waller of the Lib Dems
Although there has been recent friction within the York Conservatives – they forced out previous leader David Carr, which saw Cllr Gillies take over in January 2018 – Ian has chosen to go rather than been pushed.

As things stand, he will stay as council leader up till election day, with the Tories electing a new leader after the results are known.

That would mean residents would vote without knowing who would be City of York Council leader if the Tories won the election – or were again the dominant group in another coalition with the Lib Dems.

The Conservatives are already thought to be lining up prospective candidates to stand in place of Cllr Gillies in his Rural West York ward.

It is a safe Tory seat. Mr Gillies and fellow Conservative Chris Steward both polled more than 2,000 votes in the May 2015 election – more than double that of the next best candidate.

Varied career

Ian Gillies becomes Lord Mayor of York in 2014. Photograph: City of York Council
Mr Gillies, 72, grew up in Tang Hall and was a policeman for 13 years, serving in swinging Chelsea in the Sixties before moving back to Yorkshire.

He spent the next two decades in the financial services industry and was successful enough to be able to retire at the age of 53.

At that time he bought a taxi and became chairman of a city taxi firm.

He has been on City of York Council since May 2007.

Cllr Gillies had served as group leader of the Conservative Group once before, but stood down to become Lord Mayor of York in 2014. He lives in Upper Poppleton with his wife Pat.

There were signs that he has been thinking of standing down for some time. Back in June he told the Yorkshire Post: “I am a man in a hurry in a way, because I need to move things forward before the next election, if only to put a marker down, and a direction to follow.”

Related YorkMix stories