North Yorkshire County Council’s long-standing executive member for access Councillor Don Mackenzie says he is stepping down at the May election.
It has also emerge that the former executive member and chairman of planning Councillor Peter Sowray, from Helperby and the council’s chairman, Councillor Stuart Martin, from Ripon, will also not be seeking re-election.
Cllr Mackenzie has been in charge of high-profile services ranging from maintaining 9,200km of roads to improving internet access across a rural area for the last seven years. He said his decision had nothing to do with national politics or the popularity of Boris Johnson.
He told YorkMix Radio he had planned to stand down a year ago but that was delayed by local government reform.
Several members of different parties have paid tribute to the dedication of Cllr Mackenzie, who also spent two years as executive member for public health, and have described him as being approachable and particularly helpful in ensuring key community issues were properly addressed.
Councillor Gareth Dadd, the authority’s deputy leader and former roads boss, said: “It’s the toughest job in this authority because I have been there and I’ve still got the scars on my back.”
Cllr Mackenzie said he had been aided in the leading role by officers that were “totally supportive and utterly professional”.
Cllr Stuart Martin, who has also served for two years as both mayor of Ripon and Harrogate during 23 years as an elected member, said he had made the decision to step down with April, his wife of 40 years, after she nearly died during five days in intensive care with Covid.
Meanwhile Councillor Peter Sowray, who has regularly faced controversy over contentious decisions as the chairman of the council’s planning committee, is stepping down after 33 years on the authority.
Cllr Dadd said the Helperby farmer and Easingwold division member, who has also served on the council’s executive, was a “very dear friend” to all councillors of all parties.
Other leading North Yorkshire County councillors that have announced they will not be standing in the May elections include Councillor Richard Cooper, the leader of Harrogate Borough Council, and former scrutiny of health committee chairman Councillor Jim Clark.