THE leader of Bromsgrove District Council says he is proud of what has been achieved in his time in office, after announcing he will step down from the position this May.

Roger Hollingworth took over the role nine years ago, just two years after first being elected to serve as an Alvechurch councillor on the authority.

Explaining why he was quitting, the Rowney Green resident said he wanted to spend more time with his family while also giving his successor a "fair chance" to make an impact ahead of next year's district council elections.

"I had been thinking about it for a while," Coun Hollingworth said.

"I had already decided not to stand as a councillor next year. This job can be tiring and I want to see more of my family."

Mr Hollingworth was the ruling Tory group's unanimous choice to take over in 2005, but he immediately faced challenging times as the authority was in voluntary engagement, with the Government stepping in to help improve the council.

He said: "When I took over we owed money to the Government, the council had not filed accounts for years - it was in a terrible state.

"It would have gone bankrupt.

"I was summoned to a meeting with the minister, and I was told Bromsgrove was the worst performing council they had ever seen.

"But members and officers began working together and I feel we turned it round.

"Five years later we were out of voluntary engagement, and were mentioned in the Commons as a council others should look to emulate.

"It is now run like a business with a social conscience."

Mr Hollingworth said among his biggest successes was introducing the sharing of services with Redditch Borough Council, and the work to transform the town centre.

Both have received criticism; shared services over claims it was the first step towards the council’s merging, while the town centre regeneration was criticised for being heavily delayed.

But Mr Hollingworth said shared services had been a success as the authority kept its political sovereignty and saved millions, and although it had taken longer than expected, the town centre regeneration was now underway.

"I'm proud, I have achieved what I came to do," he said.

"Resurfacing is underway in High Street, we have started work on Parkside, the joint police and fire station is complete, and we had the sod-cutting ceremony for the new Railway Station this month.

"It has just suddenly all come together."

Asked if he had a preferred successor he said it was a decision for the Conservative group, but he would offer guidance if asked by the new leader.

"Whoever takes over will want to run it their way," he added.

Once the ruling Conservative group selects its new leader, as is the custom with the leader of the largest group, it is expected they will be voted in to become the authority's new leader at May's full district council meeting.