THE leader of Cotswold District Council has announced he is stepping down with immediate effect.

Councillor Mark Annett has described his decision as "difficult" and has been made with his health in mind.

Deputy Leader Nick Parsons has taken over the leader role until the next meeting of the council, which is being held in December. At that meeting a new leader will be elected for the remainder of the council term, which runs until May.

Cllr Annett, who is also a member of the cabinet, said: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have decided to step down as leader.

"It was a tremendous honour to have been elected to this role, and it represented a challenge that I relished both at that time and again when I returned to the council fray more recently after a period of significant illness.

‘‘However, even after months of recuperation and a much-needed holiday, it is clear that the combination of council duties, business commitments and the need for precious family time are proving exceptionally draining, and I feel that my health is starting to suffer once again - which I cannot allow to continue.

“I am mindful of the needs of the council that I love and of which I am proud, and at this moment I really do not think I am robust enough, either mentally or physically, to give the time and effort that is required of its leader.

"I would therefore prefer to stand down now, rather than risk letting the council and its residents down in the future.

“It has been a difficult decision in some ways, but easy when I consider my health and family.

"I would like to thank officers and members of the council for the support given to me in my time as leader, and especially during the course of my illness.

“I look forward to continuing to represent residents in the Campden-Vale Ward.”

Cllr Annett was first elected in 2009 and lives in Chipping Camden, working as a chartered surveyor.

He took over the role from Councillor Lynden Stowe in May 2017.