The leader of Fylde Council has made the shock decision to step down from his role.
Ansdell Conservative Coun David Eaves said a combination of his age, an illness scare and the authority’s comfortable financial position meant it was the right time for him to leave the role.
He said he wants to to make way for a new leader, and take a backseat role in council life.
He added: “I have taken the decision to step down.
“I thought it was the right time – I’ve been leader for five years now. The council is going through another change in going back to the committee system, and at the start of the next electiojns I will be 69, which would take me through to 74 by the end of the term.
“I have had a health scare and my wife is recovering from an illness so they are issues to consider as well.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved in the past five years with the excellent services in Fylde.
“The authority is in the best financial state in its history, there have been changes to the workforce and the transformation of the town hall.
“We’ve also had four years of Council Tax freezes so the Council is in a very good position. I’m also incredibly proud the council has been named one of the best 20 places in the country to live – it sees me go ing out at the top.
“But I think I still have a role to play in Ansdell, overseeing the regeneration of the area, so I will stand again at the next election in the ward.
“I think it is the right time for me to step down as leader for the Conservative group.”
Coun Sue Fazackerley will now take on the role of interim leader of the council, until a new leader is elected at the authority’s next full council meeting.
The ruling Conservative group will put forward a candidate and a vote will be taken in the meeting.
Coun Liz Oades, leader of the opposition and an independent councillor from Kirkham, paid tribute to the departing leader.
She said: “I will be very sorry to see him go.
“We have worked together for a very long time and I wish both him and his wife well for the future.”
Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council added: “David’s announcement is a blow not just to Fylde Council, but to the whole of the Fylde coast.
“We have worked very closely together over the past three years, he has been a key partner, and I have invariably found him to be extremely pleasant, helpful and highly committed to his role.
“I am very sad to see him stand down, and wish him and his family well for the future. He will be a tough act to follow.”
Coun Eaves leaves his role as leader as Fylde prepares to change from a cabinet system of governance back to a committee system, following a referendum earlier this year which saw residents call for a return to the authority’s previous system of governance.