VETERAN Tory councillor Robert Light is stepping down from Kirklees Council after three decades – but there won’t be a by-election to find his replacement.
The Birstall and Birkenshaw politician made the shock announcement at Wednesday evening’s full council meeting and will officially step aside next Friday, November 16.
Coun Light was due for re-election in May 2019, and as his resignation comes within six months of that date there is no legal obligation to hold a by-election.
Birstall and Birkenshaw’s two other Conservative councillors, Elizabeth Smaje and Mark Thompson, have agreed to take on extra work until next May, when a replacement will be elected.
The news was unexpected, with many of his fellow Tory councillors unaware of his decision until just before the meeting.
Coun Light did not divulge his reasons for stepping down, but said he would remain as the regional chairman of the Consumer Council for Water as “that’s the only non-political role I have”.
Yesterday (Thurs) he told The Press that he was retiring from politics entirely but news of a role for him would be announced within the next few weeks.
Coun Light was leader of the Kirklees Conservative Group for 15 years and was originally elected in 1987 at the age of 22, making him the youngest councillor in the country at the time. He was initially a councillor until 1995 and then from 2000 onwards.
A leading member of the Local Government Association for a number of years, he was Council Leader from 2006 to 2009 and the first chairman of the Leeds City Region.
Colleagues warmly applauded his farewell speech in the council chamber.
Mayor of Kirklees Coun Gwen Lowe said: “A light has gone out in this chamber.”