Councillor Stephen Parnaby, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, has announced he will not be seeking re-election in the 2019 elections.
The longest-serving council leader in Yorkshire and one of a very small group to achieve over 20 years of continual leadership of a principal authority, he said: “The time is right to move on.”
Cllr Parnaby will have been the East Riding’s leader for 23 years by May 2019 and previously was the leader of Beverley Borough Council from 1991 until it was abolished in a local government re-organisation in 1996. He was awarded the OBE for his services to local government in the Queen’s New Year Honours List in 2008.
Cllr Parnaby said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the residents of the East Riding and particularly in the position as leader of the council.
“I was first elected in 1979 with only an ambition to do my best. I believe I have done that and now is the right time to move on; 40 years in local government is a long time. I will be 68 years old in 2019 and if I was elected again I would be 72 by the end of that term. It’s right that I step aside and allow someone else to pick up the reins.
“I have had the pleasure of working with some very talented people both at member and officer level. My task now is to work with my deputy Cllr Jonathan Owen and the council’s chief executive Caroline Lacey, along with other councillors and officers, to allow for a smooth transition. The East Riding has been particularly successful and is well respected in national and local government, something of which I am very proud. I want that to continue and will work hard to ensure it does.”
Up until recently Councillor Parnaby ran his own business alongside his council commitments.
He added: “Like all members, I have a life outside of the council. I have always been involved in business but at the unusually young age of 28 I decided I wanted to serve the public at a local level. I never envisaged it would last this long, nor did I expect to have the honour of being the leader of one of the largest unitary authorities in the country.”
Finally he said: “I expect the next year to be one of the busiest yet. There will be so much to do and above all I need to recognise and thank all the people who have supported me and without whom none of my achievements would have been possible.”
Caroline Lacey, chief executive of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The success of the council has largely been down to the strong and stable leadership it has enjoyed over the past 21 years.
“Councillor Parnaby is East Riding of Yorkshire Council through and through and he is held in high regard locally, regionally and nationally. It has been a pleasure working with Councillor Parnaby and from a personal point of view his experience and support have been extremely helpful in my role since I became chief executive last year. This announcement means that there is a long period before his retirement to enable a smooth transition of leadership.”