A LEADER of a council is to step down, saying his deafness had done him ‘more harm’ than he realised.

Keith Knaggs has led Ryedale District Council and its Conservative group for the past 17 years.

But now the councillor, who is registered deaf, is to quit his post as leader of the council.

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He announced today (Thursday, December 6) he had already stepped down as leader of the council’s majority Tory party, saying he no longer possessed the “full confidence” of the group.

He said: “In recent weeks it has become clear that I no longer possess the full confidence of the Conservative group on Ryedale District Council, which I have led for the past 17 years.

“This means that I would not be able to take the group and the council through the radical transformation necessary if it is to remain a relevant and successful local authority.”

Mr Knaggs told the Echo his resignation is the result of personality clashes rather than policy disagreements, which had “built up over several months”.

He added: “I now appreciate that my deafness has done me more harm than I realised.

“It’s easy to get isolated, easy not to pick things up, and easy for others to take advantage of that."

Councillor Knaggs will resign as council leader in time for his successor, Councillor Linda Cowling to be elected at the full council meeting in January. He intends to remain a councilor for the Ryedale South West ward.

Coun Cowling said: “I am looking forward to working with my own group and the rest of the Ryedale District Councillors in order to maintain the best services we can for the people of Ryedale, given what are very financially challenging times for all local government."