Havant council leader will retire from politics after local elections

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THE LEADER of Havant Borough Council is set to retire from politics after the next round of local elections.

Michael Cheshire, who has led the authority for the past four years and served as a councillor for 12, will make way for young blood on Thursday, May 3.

His decision comes after he took a five-month sabbatical in 2017 to ‘learn about history’ – an interest he confirmed he will pursue when he surrenders his council duties.

He said: ‘After 12 years, the time has come to retire from politics and make way for a younger face – not just as leader, but a ward councillor too.

‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as leader and look forward to seeing the borough go from strength to strength.’

As decided at a recent Conservative group meeting, Hayling West councillor, Michael Wilson, will fill his shoes as party and council leader – provided he is re-elected on May 3 and given the green light at full council six days later.

Speaking of the task he could soon face, he said: ‘I’m pleased and honoured the group selected me.

‘This is a big responsibility and there are lots of hot issues in the borough at the moment – including regeneration, the local plan and ensuring the financial sustainability of the council

‘We have plenty of talent in our team and I am looking forward to the challenge.’

If he holds his ward in May, it will be the full council that has the final say on Cllr Wilson’s appointment as leader – and an opposition member has already backed his chances.

Cllr Terry Hart, who leads the authority’s Labour group, said: ‘I have always had a lot of respect for Michael.

‘He is constructive and has always worked with the opposition to draw out the council’s strengths where they are needed.

‘I have faith in him being a fair and responsible leader.’

With elections less than two months away, leader Cllr Cheshire praised his replacement’s achievements – as well as those of the unnamed ‘young male candidate’ who will stand for the Conservatives in his Hart Plain ward.

He said: ‘I am absolutely convinced Michael will be a fantastic leader of Havant Borough Council.

‘And the young male candidate we have decided will stand in my ward has everything one needs to take over.’