Nick Rushton steps back as leader of Leicestershire County Council after cancer diagnosis

Nick Rushton today announced he will be stepping back as leader of Leicestershire County Council. Speaking in a full council meeting this afternoon, he informed members he has been diagnosed with cancer.

The Conservative member, who has led the council since 2012, said he will soon be undergoing treatment and will “have to take a back seat in the short-term”. Deputy leader Deborah Taylor will be stepping into the void as acting leader in his absence.

Coun Rushton said he was “very grateful” to Coun Taylor for “taking on the responsibility”. Robert Ashman will also be stepping up from supporting member to take on responsibilities for economic development as cabinet lead.

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Acting leader Deborah Taylor gave her best wishes for Coun Rushton’s recovery and said she was sure everyone would “work together to ensure the council continues on the right track for the next few months”.

Coun Rushton’s son Bertie Harrison-Rushton is also an elected member. Speaking in the chamber after his father’s announcement, he said: “Whenever cancer enters anyone’s life it is incredibly overwhelming and tricky, but I’ve seen dad not only in work but also behind the scenes and he’s been absolutely stalwart and incredible in how he’s responded.

“A lot of people have said to me ‘he’ll get through it because he’s just so miserable’ and there’s probably an element of truth there.”

He added: “I think the way he’s come to us today and just been so open and honest is just a testament to his character and it shows we can all be open about these types of health problems. So dad, leader, good luck.”

The news was also met with support and well wishes from colleagues across political divides. Speaking on behalf of the Labour members on the council, Jewel Miah also wished Coun Rushton the “speediest of recoveries”.

Stuart Bray for the Liberal Democrats added: “I wanted to add my sincere best wishes to Nick for the future and I hope his treatment is very successful.”