Ashby-based Leicestershire County Council leader announces Cancer diagnosis

By Graham Hill

10th Jul 2024 | Local News

Ashby-based Leicestershire County Council leader Cllr Nick Rushton. Photo: Leicestershire County Council
Ashby-based Leicestershire County Council leader Cllr Nick Rushton. Photo: Leicestershire County Council

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, has been diagnosed with cancer, it was announced today (Wednesday).

Cllr Rushton, who lives in Ashby and is a former Ashby de la Zouch Town Councillor, will be stepping back from his county council role while he has treatment.

The county council made a short announcement this afternoon.

It reads: "Nick Rushton informed members at a meeting of the County Council today that he has been diagnosed with cancer and will soon be undergoing treatment.

"Deborah Taylor, the Deputy Leader, is stepping up to be the Acting Leader in Nick Rushton's absence.

"Robert Ashman is joining the Cabinet to take on responsibilities for economic development."

Cllr Rushton admitted he would "have to take a back seat in the short-term".

He said he was "very grateful" to Cllr Taylor for "taking on the responsibility."

Cllr 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".

Cllr 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 Cllr 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."

Cllr Rushton has been the county council leader since 2012 and his portfolio includes Strategic and External Relationships, Economic Development, Resilience and Planning for Minerals and Waste.

He has been Chairman of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Combined Fire Authority since 2015.

Cllr Rushton has been a county councillor from 1989-93 and again from 2001 to present. He is also currently lead member for Finance and Resources for North West Leicestershire District Council.

Under his leadership, Leicestershire County Council has recently taken on the role of Lead Authority and Accountable Body for the East Midlands Freeport.

On the national and regional scene, he is a former Vice-Chairman of the County Councils Network, the national body representing upper tier county authorities lobbying government for finance and local government reform and a past spokesman for Finance. 

He is also an Executive Board member of the Midlands Connect Strategic Steering Group and a Board member of the East Midlands Development Company Ltd Oversight Authority.

• Additional reporting from Hannah Richardson


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