Havant council leader to step down after five years at top

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THE leader of Havant Borough Council is to step down at the May election.

Tony Briggs, who represents Cowplain, has overseen major changes in the local authority, including the partnership with East Hampshire District Council, and the controversial outsourcing of some services to Capita.

The run-down and under-used council offices, in Civic Centre Road, also received a multimillion-pound makeover in a joint venture with Hampshire County Council.

Next Monday there will be a leadership election with four members of the ruling Tory party rumoured to be standing.

Deputy leader David Guest has confirmed he will be throwing his hat into the ring.

And he said Cllr Briggs’s tenure made the council financially secure.

‘It not only saved us millions, it enabled us to put money in our reserves and keep council tax at the same level for the fifth year – which is an enormous achievement,’ he said.

Cllr Brendan Gibb-Gray, also praised Cllr Briggs, who still intends to stay on as a councillor.

He said: ‘He has done a good job and has been a very good leader for the past five years.

‘He has kept the council in very good shape.’

Cllr Briggs said: ‘I have had the honour of serving as leader for the past five years.

‘We have transformed the way in which the council works and delivers services whilst at the same time reducing the overall cost.

‘I am proud of the Plaza and the way the building delivers services from a number of providers efficiently to our customers, and provides the council with a creditable income.

‘The recent peer review highlighted the need for political succession and planning to ensure continuity for the council going forward.

‘Therefore I have decided not to be a candidate in the leadership election, but to offer my services and support to a new leader so that there is a smooth transition.’

Cllr Briggs has been a councillor since 1970 when he joined Gosport Borough Council.

He went on to become leader but left in the mid-1990s.

Cllr Briggs is expected to stay on the cabinet but says he wants to devote more time to personal interests.

His wife Ann represents Waterloo ward on Hampshire County Council.