RYEDALE’S council leader is to quit the role after saying he does not have the “full confidence” of his party.

Coun Keith Knaggs has already resigned as leader of Ryedale District Council’s Conservative group and will be replaced by Pickering West councillor Linda Cowling, who is set to be elected as the authority’s new leader in January.

“In recent weeks, it has become clear I no longer possess the full confidence of the group,” said Coun Knaggs, who represents Ryedale South West and has led the council for 17 years.

“This means I would not be able to take the group and the council through the radical transformation necessary to remain a relevant and successful local authority. That situation would not be in the best interests of the people of Ryedale. I am grateful to all those who have supported me, in good times and bad, over the years.”

Coun Knaggs said it was his intention to resign as council leader in time for Coun Cowling to be elected as his successor in the role at next month's full meeting of the authority.

Coun Cowling said: “I am looking forward to working with my own group and other councillors to maintain the best services we can for the people of Ryedale, given what are very financially-challenging times.

"The recent flooding in the district has demonstrated the benefits of a multi-agency approach of working closely with our partners, which is something I would aim to continue and increase.

“Some of the work I have enjoyed most in the past 22 years as a councillor has been working with town and parish councils and I would like to increase that level of involvement - they are our eyes and ears at a grassroots level.”