Roy Perry has announced that he is stepping down from his role as leader of Hampshire CC after 50 years in politics, .
Cllr Perry (Con) has led Hampshire CC since 2013, when he replaced Cllr Ken Thornber, who died in 2017.
He is also chairman of South East Councils, and has recently been active in pushing for the interests of the south east to be taken into account in the Greater London Plan.
Cllr Perry will continue as a backbench councillor representing Romsey Rural until May 2021 when he will retire altogether.
There is speculation that Keith Mans, who is currently the ruling Tory group’s deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, will now contest the leadership post.
During his time in charge, Cllr Perry fought hard against proposals for a devolution deal to the ‘Solent City’ area which included Southampton and Portsmouth city councils and was supported by East Hampshire DC. Cllr Perry expressed concern that the establishment of a Solent City would lead to the break up of Hampshire CC and the division of the county.
“With the help of MPs and others we successfully rebuffed schemes to break this county into two,” Cllr Perry wrote in his leaving statement. “I won’t mind being remembered as the man who saved Hampshire as a county.
“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.”
*This story was amended on 6 March to correct the suggestion that Cllr Perry had pushed hard for unitary Hampshire council. Cllr Perry only backed a county unitary as an alternative to the break up of the county.