Cllr Daniel Cook has announced his intention to step down as Leader of Tamworth Borough Council after 11 years at the helm of the authority.
In an emotional speech during a virtual meeting of the Full Council this evening (Tuesday, December 15), Cllr Cook confirmed he would be resigning from the role at the end of February next year.
After enjoying more than a decade of success and challenges, Cllr Cook says the time is right to hand the reins over while he devotes more time to his family and the new baby he and his wife Michelle are expecting next year.
In his speech, Cllr Cook said: “I have been Leader of this council for 11 years and 8 days, and other than my family, it has been the greatest privilege of my life and I hope you all agree I gave it my all.
“During this period I have also held a full time day job and, for a couple of years of my leadership, I was also a single father – while fully employed in the demanding logistics sector and Leader of this council 24/7. That takes a lot of managing and is exhausting. But I made it work as best as my abilities enabled.
“However, 11 years is long enough for anyone to juggle these demands. Being Leader of TBC is all my youngest daughter remembers me ever being. For those who did not know, my wife, Cllr Michelle Cook, is pregnant and it is time for me to give her my fuller attention.
“It has been a journey full of ups and downs, full of success and the odd failure. I have never believed I am infallible and I am certainly not perfect, but no one can be, certainly not when governing for 77,000 people and their complex needs and desires.
“I am a great believer in “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds” – a quote from General John J. Pershing.
“I say this because I recall a conversation as my leadership began with two former Council Leaders, Cllr Jeremy Oates and the late Cllr Peter Seekings. They asked me over a cup of tea what legacy I wanted. I responded, “not to be remembered”. Simply because 99% of the time in politics, you are remembered for your failings rather than your successes. It is a cruel truth.
“As the sun sets on my time in this role, I see it different now. I look back with pride on the journey undertaken, on how we moved the council and the town forward with confidence. At the end, you start to recall the beginning.
“I think of the challenges myself and colleagues met head on. We didn’t always make popular choices, but we made the best choices with the evidence available.”
Cllr Cook spoke about some of those successes and challenges, including the decade of austerity, the sale of Tamworth Golf Course, the creation of new homes at Tinkers Green and Kerria, securing millions of pounds in funding for Tamworth Assembly Rooms and Tamworth Castle, falling unemployment and more.
During his time as Leader, Cllr Cook has employed two chief executives and 12 Cabinet members and has enjoyed ‘some great sparring with three different Opposition leaders’.
He then went on to personally thank a number of colleagues including councillors Robert Pritchard, Jeremy Oates and the late Steve Claymore, as well as former chief executive Tony Goodwin and current chief executive Andrew Barratt.
He concluded: “Tamworth is a magnificent place. Full of diverse and wonderful people. They deserve our best and I know we all give all of ourselves to the principle. We might not always align in agreement, but I know every single councillor in Tamworth came into the role with the right intentions. Therefore, it’s not quite goodbye yet, but the process can begin.
“Leadership is about strong character, I leave the same way as I arrived, head held high and determined. I now look forward to spending more time with my perfect wife Michelle, my two daughters, my granddaughter and the little bundle of joy currently doing gymnastics inside Michelle.”
You can read the full statement online at: www.tamworth.gov.uk/cllr-daniel-cook-note-intention-resign-leader-council.
Andrew Barratt, Chief Executive of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “It has been an honour to work with Cllr Cook in his role as Leader during the last 11 years – and particularly during the last three years when I’ve worked even more closely with him in my role as Chief Executive. It’s not an easy job, which brings with it many conflicting demands and difficult decisions. Cllr Cook has faced some huge challenges over the last decade and handled them well – at the same time as raising a family and holding down a demanding full-time job too.
“While he has served as Leader for 11 years, he’s actually been an elected member of this authority since 2004, and has played an integral part in shaping the council as we know it today. I’d like to thank him, on behalf of all staff at Tamworth Borough Council, for his passion and dedication over the years and wish him and his wife Michelle all the best in their next exciting chapter.”
Cllr Cook will remain in position until a new Leader is elected, which is planned for February 23, with the aim that they would take office on March 1st.