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Michael White has reisgned as leader of Havering Council after 10 years in the role.

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The longest serving council leader in the history of the borough announced his decision at a Conservative party meeting on Monday night.

It comes just months before the May council elections, and the Tory councillor will now take up a new role in the private sector.

“I’ve done my 10 years – it is time to move on,” he told the Recorder,

“Someone said ‘the art of great leadership is knowing when to go’ - and it is the right time.”

Cllr White will continue in his role as ward councillor for Squirells Heath, but believes he can no longer commit enough time to act as leader.

In a statement released on Tuesday, he thanked his fellow councillors and officers.

He wrote: “It’s been my absolute privilege to lead this council for the last decade and I am immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve in that time.

“I will be sorry to go, but I am proud to have played my part in making Havering a better place to live and I wish my successor the very best for the future.”

Opposing councillors have moved to comment on the resignation.

Leader of the Residents’ Association, Cllr Clarence Barrett, said: “Ten years is a long time as Leader and I wish Cllr White well.

“However, my focus is on the May local elections.”

Labour leader, Cllr Keith Darvill, spoke of his surprise at the news.

“I didn’t see it coming this close to the elections. I thought he would be leading his party into them,” he said,

“I have not agreed with everything they have done but it has certainly been a hard 10 years, particularly with the financial difficulties all local governments have faced.”

Cllr Lawrence Webb, leader of the UK Independence Party, did not pull any punches and suggested Cllr White took his new job to ensure he was not unemployed post-election.

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