The long-time Conservative leader of South Gloucestershire Council has announced that he has stepped down from his role.
Conservative Cllr John Calway, who represents Longwell Green, has also stepped down as leader of the Conservatives for “personal reasons”. He will still serve as a councillor.
The Conservatives are the biggest party on the council but do not hold a majority. Cllr Calway has been council leader since 2007.
Deputy Conservative Group leader Cllr Matthew Riddle said: “Words are quite inadequate to express the magnificent service that John has given to the residents of South Gloucestershire and the Council.
“Over the last 15 years he has served as Conservative Group leader and during that period the Conservative Group has grown from eight councillors in 1999 to 33 councillors now. John has also been leader of the council over the last seven and a half years and during that time the council became a ‘4 Star Council’ – the highest rating possible, provided good services for our residents and at a cost that represents good value for money for our council taxpayers.
“John will continue as one of the councillors for Longwell Green and so we will not be losing his long experience and great expertise from the Conservative group nor the council.”
A leadership election to replace Cllr Calway as leader both of the Conservative Group and of South Gloucestershire Council, and also to appoint a new deputy group leader, will be taking place on Monday.
Responding to the news today, Cllr Pat Rooney, the Labour Group leader on the council, said: “I have known John for many years, serving with him first on Kingswood Borough Council and more recently on South Gloucestershire Council.
“Despite our obvious political differences we have worked together for the benefit of our district, most recently as leaders of our respective parties. John remains a big character in local politics and I put on record my thanks to him for all he has done as council leader to stand up for South Gloucestershire.”
And Cllr Ian Boulton, Labour’s deputy leader on the council, sent his best wishes to Cllr Calway, calling him “a political foe but a personal friend”.
South Gloucestershire Lib Dem Group leader Cllr Ruth Davis said: “Despite our political differences, John and I have shared a good working relationship over the years. During his time as leader of the council he has been a dedicated and hardworking public servant for the people of South Gloucestershire.
“On a personal note, I will always be grateful to John for the kindness and consideration he showed to me while I was caring for my mother towards the end of her life. I wish him all the very best.”
Meanwhile Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore said: “John Calway is a remarkable man and a brilliant local politician, who has led the Conservative party locally from a position where we once had only one seat in Kingswood – John’s own- to the situation today where locally Conservatives hold the vast majority of seats and most of the constituency is shaded blue. I know of no other Conservative leader who has been as successful as John.
“My family and I have known John since the early 1980s, ever since he was first elected as a councillor in Longwell Green in 1983, and he has always been a bedrock of support.
“As the local MP, I have been extremely fortunate and proud to have had John as leader of South Gloucestershire Council and the Conservatives: he has been the pinnacle of what an excellent local representative should be: someone who is above politics, who is known by everyone and universally liked and respected in equal measure.
“I look forward to working with John in the run-up to next year’s General and Local Elections, as he has always been a great street campaigner.”