Matthew Holmes chosen as new Conservative group leader following Cllr Hickson’s retirement decision.

Cllr Hickson led efforts to support Bombardier, choosing to take on his own government and winning the argument to secure thousands of local jobs.
Cllr Hickson led efforts to support Bombardier, choosing to take on his own government and winning the argument to secure thousands of local jobs.

Following 25 years as a City Councillor, Philip Hickson met with the Derby Conservative group on Monday 18 January 2016 to announce his decision to retire. This now means that he will not be defending his Allestree seat in May’s local election. Philip has also decided to step down as group leader with immediate effect.

The Derby Conservative group has voted unanimously to choose Cllr Matthew Holmes as their new leader after having been deputy leader for around seven years, with the last four alongside Cllr Hickson.

As is always the case, a leader and deputy will be chosen at the group’s annual meeting following the local elections and in the interim, the role of Derby Conservative group Deputy Leader will remain vacant with Cllr Holmes drawing from the talent available within in the Derby Conservative group to support him when required.

Cllr Holmes said, “I would like to pay tribute to Cllr Hickson’s service not just as leader of the Derby Conservative group but to his long and distinguished service to the City as a councillor, former leader of the council and many senior roles including Chair of Derbyshire Police Authority and Justice of the Peace. His approach to leadership has always been based on a laser sharp focus to cut right through to the issue at hand and has never failed to provide a considered way forward or a response no matter how complex the issue being dealt with. He is also renowned for his no-nonsense, statesman-like approach as well as speaking his mind. That is something that I believe the Derby Conservative group have benefited from and that the residents in his local ward and the City greatly respected and appreciated. Those qualities are widely recognised across both the public and the private sectors locally and further afield. However, behind the scenes and regularly demonstrated in council meetings with devastating effect, his razor sharp wit and humour would shine through. That is something I and others will miss.

Cllr M Holmes will serve as leader until May's AGM
Cllr M Holmes will serve as leader until May’s AGM

“Our leadership was a partnership built on absolute loyalty and trust to take our group forward and we genuinely worked very well together. It’s no understatement to say he will be a tough act to follow and the Derby Conservative group wish him well in his well earned retirement. Philip also leaves Derby a formidable legacy that he should be extremely proud of. In recent years he led efforts to support Bombardier, choosing to take on his own government and winning the argument to secure thousands of local jobs. He was also fundamental in securing tens of millions of pounds of government investment in our City as leader of the Council such as the Infinity Park project that is now well into its construction phase near Chellaston and Sinfin.

“He has also worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the people of Derby, helping to steer policy and take the council forward across every service area, regularly being called upon to support a succession of senior officers over the years. He has also been a truly exceptional Councillor for Allestree Ward and someone local residents know they could always rely upon to fight their corner or work to resolve an issue for them. It has been a real pleasure to have worked along Philip as his deputy and is an honour for me to be taking his place as leader of the Conservative group with his and the groups full and unanimous endorsement. That smooth transition of leadership was behind’s Philip’s decision to step down as leader now rather than at the end of his term as a Councillor in May. It will ensure that we continue to offer a robust and formidable opposition to the current Labour administration.”

Conservative councillor Frank Harwood also paid tribute to Mr Hickson – the man who convinced him to defect from the Liberal Democrats to the Tories in 2010.

Mr Harwood said: “Nobody is indispensable but some people will be missed more than others and Philip Hickson certainly fits that description where he and the Derby Conservative group are concerned.”

The Mid Derbyshire & Derby Conservatives Association want to thank Philip Hickson for his support and leadership over the years, and wish him a long and happy retirement.