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Leader of Wolverhampton Council to step down after 15 years in charge

The leader of Wolverhampton City Council has announced he will step down after 15 years in the role.

Roger Lawrence said it felt like the “right time to make way for fresh leadership” after spending 36 years as a councillor for the City of Wolverhampton Council.

Lawrence was first elected as a councillor in 1983 before first taking over at the council in 2002, and he has also held key roles at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), initially as programme board chair, and is currently responsible for the regional transport portfolio.

In a statement, the authority said Lawrence had successfully steered the council through one of its most challenging periods following the 2007 financial crisis and balanced its current budget when council funding has been halved by £220m since 2009.

The council said that “despite the scale of financial challenges faced, councillor Lawrence had been instrumental in overseeing huge transformation at the council” and wider West Midlands region.

The award-winning councillor said he would not be putting his name forward for the leadership vote in May, but would continue to serve as a councillor until May 2020 when his term runs out.

Lawrence explained: “After more than three decades serving this great city, 15 as leader of the council, I feel that now's the right time to make way for fresh leadership.

"The challenges the city and our wider region face are significant. Brexit uncertainty, further cuts to public services, wider political, social and economic changes - they're all long-term issues and I feel the time is right for new thinking, energy and focus and a longer-term commitment that I am unable to make.

"These challenges are not insurmountable, but they do mean that the council and the city need to continue to pull together, as one, to overcome them. And we've shown many times before that we can do this. I'm immensely proud of some of our big achievements. Record levels of investment and a new £150million Interchange connecting train, tram, bus and car.”

Lawrence said none of the council’s achievements would have been possible without the support of many council employees, residents, businesses, city and regional partners, adding: “I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to serve this great city and I hope make a positive difference to the lives of local people.”


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