Gosport Borough Council leader Mark Hook set to step down from role after 13 years
THE leader of Gosport Borough Council will step down from the top job – but will fight one last election.
If re-elected in Alverstoke ward in May, Councillor Mark Hook will aim to be both Deputy Mayor of Gosport and leader this year. He would then take up the mayoral role and stop being leader in the following year.
Cllr Hook has been in politics for 30 years, and said he wants to retire to spend more time with his family.
‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time in office,’ the 60-year-old said.
‘Throughout my working life I've been involved in politics and there comes a time where you need time to yourself.
‘I want to devote more time to my family and see my grandchildren grow up.’
Cllr Hook said his final two years of a four-year term, ending in 2024, will be spent on the backbenches.
He said politics is a ‘harsh business’ and admitted some people will be happy to see him go.
‘I have lots of things to be proud of, like the regeneration of the Alver Village and the new leisure centre,’ he said.
‘But I’ve always wanted to fulfil my ambition of representing Gosport as mayor. It's the highest office you can take.’
Cllr Hook was elected in 1983 for two terms. He has served continuously since 1998 – including more than 13 years as leader.
But Cllr Hook’s time in office has not been without controversy.
In 2007 the council paid £7,230 to Cllr Hook’s then company, ELJ Furnishing, to put new carpets in the Town Hall reception.
Two years ago there were calls for him to resign after he racked up business rates debt at the same shop, which peaked at £19,638.
One of his main political rivals has been Liberal Democrats leader Peter Chegwyn.
Cllr Chegwyn said: ‘You think of all the controversy there’s been – his reign hasn’t been a happy one.
‘The sooner we get rid of him the better and the electorate can make the decision for him in the May election.’