THE leader of a North Yorkshire council has today announced he is to quit in the spring for "personal reasons".

Topcliffe councillor Neville Huxtable, who has led Hambleton District Council for the last three years, said he was confirming his decision to resign now so the way is cleared for a new leader to take over in May.

He has been a councillor for 14 years and a member of the Conservative-controlled authority's cabinet for the last ten, taking responsibility for its leisure and housing portfolio before becoming leader. He will continue as a backbench district councillor, but will not stand for re-election for North Yorkshire County Council's Sowerby division at its May elections.

"I am very proud to have taken Hambleton through some tough and exciting times," said Coun Huxtable.

"But I am leaving the authority in a very healthy position. It is still the third-lowest district council in the country for council tax, has its own innovative apprentice scheme which sees young unemployed people from Hambleton finding themselves in work for the first time, and an exciting new community fund with a £100,000 pot for local projects.

"On top of that, through all the austerity, we have managed to maintain our high level of services. The residents of Hambleton have not been subjected to any service cuts."