Council leader takes months off to ‘focus on history’

Cllr Michael Cheshire
Cllr Michael Cheshire
The Public Service Plaza, Havant Borough Council offices
Picture: Allan Hutchings (150078-158)

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A COUNCIL leader is leaving his role for five-month sabbatical.

Conservative councillor Michael Cheshire, leader of Havant Borough Council will step down from his position on Tuesday.

A council statement said he will take time off to ‘enhance his knowledge of history and public speaking’.

Cllr Cheshire refused to speak to The News about what the break will entail, it is believed the leader – a former commander of HMS Victory – will be doing historical research and giving lectures on board cruise ships.

Cllr Cheshire stressed at a council meeting he would not accept the leader’s allowance during the break.

He will instead divert the funds to deputy council leader Cllr Anthony Briggs, who will assume the council’s leading role for the period.

Cllr Briggs stepped down as leader of Havant Borough Council in 2014 after five years in the job.

Speaking ahead of his sabbatical, Cllr Cheshire said: ‘Tony Briggs is very experienced.

‘I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we will not see any difference in style or effectiveness under him.’

Cllr Cheshire will use ‘full access to the internet’ to maintain his responsibilities as a ward councillor.

He plans to return to the leader’s post on January 1, 2018.

Conservative MP for Havant, Alan Mak, said: ‘I wish Mike Cheshire well for his sabbatical and I hope he comes back refreshed.

‘Tony Briggs is an experienced councillor and I look forward to working with him.’

Chief executive of the council Sandy Hopkins said: ‘We fully support him taking this needed time to enhance his knowledge of history and public speaking.

‘We look forward to his return.’

During the sabbatical, some cabinet members will undergo a reshuffle of their roles.