The leader of Pendle Council will stand down from both the council and as leader at the elections in May.
Coun. Paul White led the Conservatives to their first majority on Pendle Council for 39 years last year, and has been a councillor for the Boulsworth Ward since 2011.
Earlier this year the 32-year-old announced that he is suffering from heart failure and underwent surgery to implant a defibrillator.
Coun. White, who has previously served as a parish, town and county councillor and was Pendle’s Executive Member for Economic Development, owns several businesses locally and was named as the Young Lancastrian of the Year in October.
During his time on Pendle Council he has worked hard to engage more young people in politics, and won a national award in 2014 for campaign of the year, after helping to get Europe’s Youngest Councillor, Lyle Davy, elected.
The former Park High School and Nelson and Colne College student has also worked for the Conservative Party as a Campaign Manager, was the Regional Director for Vote Leave for the North West of England and stood to be Burnley’s MP in the 2017 General Election.
He said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me. It’s a decision I made a number of months ago and have thought about long and hard.
“I love Pendle, I love its people. It is a place I am so passionate about. But everything I do I do to the very best of my ability and the simple fact is that my three businesses are really growing and they need my full attention. I need to consider my own future and the heart failure was a wake up call for that.
“I won’t have always got it right, but I’ve always tried to do what I genuinely believe to be the right thing. I’ll still be around to fly the flag for Pendle at every opportunity.”
Coun. White spearheaded the decision to reduce the number of councillors on Pendle Council by a third, and the decision to look at abolishing the council in favour of a Unitary Authority.
One of the youngest council leaders in the country, he added: “There are many, many things I’m proud of during my time on Pendle Council. The work we’ve done to boost the economy as well as taking forward the Lomeshaye extension is something I’m really proud of, and encouraging more young people to get involved. It’s been a pleasure to work with the incredible staff at this Council and Councillors from across the political spectrum as well as the many organisations in the Borough.
“People often forget that we usually have the same aim, just different ideas of how to get there. Politics has become particularly divisive in the past couple of years and we’ve even seen that locally, where people of opposing views are subjected to a real nastiness. That’s been the least enjoyable part of it, I guess it’s that feeling of people being out solely to bring you down. I won’t miss that one bit. If as much effort were put into improving Pendle as bringing each other down, it’d be a much better place..
“I’m looking forward to a total break from politics for now, but who knows what will happen in the years to come.
“I’ve made some of my best friends whilst being involved in politics, and I will really miss it. The Conservatives and Andrew Stephenson MP, a great friend of mine, will continue to have my full support.”
Paul will continue as Leader of the Council until May, when a successor will be chosen by Full Council.
Reacting to the news Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “Paul has been a huge advocate for Pendle over the last eight years.
His determination, his tenacity and his drive to improve Pendle should be applauded.
"I am sorry to see him stand down but I am sure it won’t be the last we see of him.”