This statement is to announce my intention to stand down as the Leader of Hampshire County Council at the County Council’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday 17th May 2019.
I made a public statement to this effect at the Council’s meeting on Thursday 14th February which is the last full Council meeting before the AGM. By standing down now at a time of my own choosing and at the mid-point of the county electoral period, I will give my successor two clear years to guide Hampshire in the period up to the next county elections in 2021.
The majority Conservative Group will have good time to prepare for the election of my successor as Group Leader and by making the announcement now I want avoid any overlap with the District Council elections in May or any issues in Parliament.
After May I will continue as a backbench councillor representing the Romsey Rural Division for the rest of the term until May 2021 and then retire. The “Commission on Hampshire 2050” which I chair is due to reach its conclusions and present its findings in June of this year.
2019 marks 50 years since I first stood for election in 1969 for Eastleigh West ward on the Eastleigh Borough Council. I lost. I was first elected as a Councillor in June 1970 to represent Chandler’s Ford on Eastleigh Borough Council. It has been a privilege to serve in Hampshire since that time in a range of capacities. These have included Parish Councillor in Wellow, Borough Councillor both in Eastleigh and Test Valley, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Member of the European Parliament 1994-2004, County Councillor since 2005, and from 2013 as Leader of Hampshire County Council. This last year I have also served as Chairman of South East England Councils (SEEC) and as Conservative Vice Chairman of the LGA Children and Young People Board.
I am fortunate to continue to enjoy good health but judge now is a good and appropriate time to allow a new Leader to take over the reins. All local government is under pressure but Hampshire County Council has faced up to those pressures better than most and is widely admired. I can confidently hand over to my successor a council and county in excellent shape. With the help of MPs and others we successfully rebuffed schemes to break this county into two. I won’t mind being remembered as the man who saved Hampshire as a county.
I pay tribute to the Chief Executive and all staff of Hampshire County Council for their exemplary service to the County Council, to my Deputy Leader Keith Mans and Cabinet Members for their support and their work and to all county councillors regardless of politics. I also acknowledge the wider community and those involved in public life in all its forms who contribute so much to the quality of life in this county and with whom the County Council works in constructive partnership.
I particularly thank my wife Veronica and family who have supported me over such a long time as I have indulged my passion for democratic service at local, national and international level.
Roy Perry - February 2019