Sep 26 2012 By David Baker
THE leader of Harrow Council has announced he will step down from the role after two and a half years due to health problems.
Having taken on the reigns from Navin Shah as leader of the Labour Group four and half years ago councillor Bill Stephenson led the party to success at the local elections in 2010.
His two and half year stint at the helm of the council makes him the longest serving leader of the past 10 years in Harrow, while he has also represented Headstone South, since being elected in the ward in 1998.
Mr Stephenson will continue to represent his ward but his announcement on Tuesday means the group will put now put procedures in place to elect a new leader.
Speaking about the decision he said: “I had already made a firm decision to stand down as Leader in the next few months, not least to allow me to spend more time with my family and friends but also because I think it is the right time for somebody else to take over the reins.
“However, some health problems have made this difficult and have brought my decision forward. My intention is to continue until a new Leader is elected and to carry out a phased handover at this very challenging time for the council.
“I am immensely honoured and privileged to have held this position. I believe our administration has numerous significant achievements to its name, not least being named Best Achieving Council in the UK for 2011/12.
“I would like to thank the Chief Executive and all of our council staff for their hard work and support in very difficult times as well as the support from our partners including the voluntary and third sector.
“I would also like to thank all members of the Labour Group for their support and pay tribute to the civilised relationships I have had with councillors from all political groups.
“Local residents in Harrow are rightly hard task masters. I would like to think that I have lived up to their high expectations over the last two and a half years. I shall miss my interactions with them although I will continue to represent my ward to the best of my ability.”
Chief Executive of Harrow Council, Michael Lockwood added: “I would like to say thank you to Bill for his dedication and service to both Harrow as a place and to the council.
“Speaking on behalf of all staff at the council, it has been a privilege to work with him. We wish him well and wish him good health.”