One of Hove’s longest-serving councillors resigned this afternoon (Wednesday 16 November).
Brian Oxley, 52, the Conservative leader of the council from May 2007 until May 2008, said in a statement: “I am standing down today as councillor for the Westbourne ward in Hove.
“I have sold my flat as I need to live closer to my father, who lives in Derby, to give him the support he needs as he gets older.
“It has been an immense privilege to represent Westbourne ward for over 16 years and the good people who live within its boundaries.
“I hope I have, in whatever measure, improved the lives of people in the area.
“I shall miss the many friends I have made over the years both within the ward and across the city as a result of the various roles I have held on the city council.
“I wish Brighton and Hove all the very best in the future.”
A by-election will be held although a date has yet to be set.
The contest is expected to be closely fought, with fewer than 250 votes separating the Conservatives and the leading Labour and Green candidates at the local elections in May.
In May Mr Oxley topped the poll.
He was first elected to Hove Borough Council in 1995 and served for its final two years before the merger with Brighton.
He was elected to Brighton and Hove Council in 1996 serving on the shadow council during the year of preparing to take the reins.
He first became leader of the Conservative group on the council at the age of 41 – ten years ago – relinquishing the post in 2004.
He became the Tory group leader again in 2006, standing down two years later after serving the final year as leader of the council. He was replaced by Mary Mears.
Away from the council he works as senior parliamentary assistant to Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby.
He previously worked at Westminster for former Arundel and South Downs MP Howard Flight and Teresa Gorman, the former Billericay MP.
Mr Oxley, who has a degree in chemistry and economics, has also been a guest lecturer at a number of American colleges in London on the workings of Parliament.
Fellow councillors seemed shocked and surprised at Mr Oxley’s resignation.
One said: “He’s quiet but effective. He’s hard-working, diligent and conscientious.
“We don’t always see eye to eye but he’s always polite and courteous.”
He stood for Parliament in the safe Labour seat of Sheffield Central in 1987, coming second to long-serving Labour MP Richard Caborn.
And he twice came close to securing the nomination to stand in Hove.
A colleague said: “Brian is loyal, principled and determined – and a fantastic ward councillor.
“There’s a real risk we could lose his seat, which would be a shame because I suspect that would be a reflection on the situation at Westminster rather than the situation locally.”
After graduating, Mr Oxley worked in an accountant’s office for a year and for Derby City Council for five years.
He has spent 22 years in Brighton and Hove having come south in 1989. In that time he has won widespread respect across party lines.
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