THE leader of Horwich Town Council - who has served as Mayor of Bolton as well as twice becoming Mayor of Horwich - has stepped down from his position and plans to leave local politics next year.

Kevan Helsby, a veteran of the Bolton political scene, has led the town council for three years, following a return to the council in 2011 after a four-year break.

His involvement with local government began in 1983 when he was elected to Horwich Town Council and Bolton Council.

In 1985, the 64-year-old became vice-chairman of Bolton Council’s planning committee, a position he held for five years.

His achievements include helping to lead the renovation of the Market Place in 1990 as well as his involvement in the development of Middlebrook Retail Park and Horwich’s much-loved resource centre.

The Labour councillor, who worked as a careers adviser, became Mayor of Bolton in 2001 before leaving the borough council in 2003.

He first moved to Horwich in 1981 and his dedication to the town was recognised with an MBE in the Queen’s Millennium honours list.

So much was Cllr Helsby’s passion for the parish that after retiring from politics in 2007, he was encouraged to return to lead the town council in 2011.

He said: “I am not committed to standing for the town council in 12 months time and I just felt like it was time for someone else to take up the role of leader. I don’t believe one person should be in the job forever, it is good to have a change.

“I have really enjoyed my time as leader and met some great people over the years, helping to set up the resource centre was a personal highlight.”

Filling the position left by Cllr Helsby will be Cllr Kevin McKeon, who is Bolton Council’s cabinet member for education, a man the outgoing leader believes “will make a great leader”.

Cllr McKeon paid tribute to Cllr Helsby.

He said: “Kevan is extremely experienced in council work and we very much appreciated him coming out of retirement to lead the council for the past three years, under his leadership Labour have set some great foundations that we can build on.”