The long-serving leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council is standing down.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald will step down as leader next month and retire at the next local elections in 2019.
He said: “At the last elections I advised my local Conservative Party Association that they would be my last and I confirmed that again at the beginning of the new council term in 2015.
“So, as my colleagues in the Conservative group know, I will be leaving the city council in two years’ time when my term of office expires.
“As I was first elected to Brighton County Borough Council at a by-election in 1968, next year I will have had the honour of continuously serving as a councillor in Brighton, where I was born, for Brighton, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove councils for 50 years.
“For the last 33 of these years, I will have had the great privilege of representing the residents of Patcham Ward and I will always be grateful for the continued support and friendship that I have enjoyed over all this time.
“I have either held office as leader, opposition leader, cabinet member or committee chairman for all but my first two years, and I was Mayor of Brighton in 1982-83 when I welcomed Margaret Thatcher and her government to Brighton.
“I have decided that my last two years will be spent in the same way as my first, and I therefore advised my group on Monday that I will not be standing for re-election as leader at our annual general meeting next month.
“I have been enormously proud of my involvement in bringing on to the council, and continuing to encourage, a number of new and younger Conservative councillors.
“So, I think that the time is now right for those who will be leading the Conservative Party into the next local elections in two years’ time, and then forming what I expect to be a Conservative administration, to take the lead.
“My successor as leader of the Conservative group, who will take over from me at the council’s annual meeting on (Thursday) 18 May, will of course have my full support and encouragement.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Conservative group members, past and present, for their continued support over all these years, which I have much appreciated.”