Hampshire County Council leader quits – new government-led cuts thought to be major factor

Rob Humby Hampshrie County Council

Councillor Rob Humby has today announced that he intends to stand down as Leader of Hampshire County Council.

In a personal statement, Councillor Humby said he had been immensely proud to serve the people of Hampshire.

It is thought his decision is due to frustration with being forced to repeatedly make cuts to local services because of lack of adequate funding from central government – a further £132 million in new cuts is pending.

Councillor Humby, whose decision will take effect from next Thursday, said: “As a Hampshire man through-and-through, whose family can trace its Hampshire roots back over 400 years, the wellbeing of Hampshire’s residents and all that makes this county such a great place in which to live, learn, work, visit and do business have been core values to which I have held absolutely true throughout my 17-year political career.

“Therefore, it is with deep regret that I announce my plans to step down after two years as County Council Leader and retire from local politics before the 2025 County Council elections. Fortunately, however, this will now enable me to spend more time with my family, children, and grandchildren. 

“I am a staunch champion of the work of local councils which is so integral to the sustainability, health, and prosperity of local communities up and down the country, but local government nationally is facing possibly its most challenging period ever.

“For many years I have lobbied hard for the vital changes needed to the way councils are funded by central Government. I have helped draw the national spotlight to the plight of local government and raise greater awareness of the need for a fairer funding model for our sector. Yet the deep-rooted change that local government so desperately needs is still such a long way off.  

“In Hampshire, we are approaching a period of crucial decision-making this summer which will set a course for the Authority to help address major funding issues after 2025/26, and it is right that my successor has the necessary time and capacity to carefully consider how best to shape the delivery of local services for 1.4 million residents and benefit Hampshire’s future. 

“Hampshire County Council has a strong reputation for doing the right thing, and doing things extremely well – with the courage and tenacity to successfully overcome challenges and keep delivering some of the best local services in the country, and I wish to thank the Authority’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Williamson, and her teams across the organisation for their ongoing professionalism, integrity, and unwavering commitment to the people of Hampshire.

“Also, my sincere thanks to Deputy Leader, Councillor Roz Chadd for her fantastic support and hard work, and the efforts of my Cabinet and all of Hampshire’s County Councillors in their continued dedication to serving local residents. It has been an honour and pleasure to work alongside colleagues across the County Council. 

“In the meantime, I look forward to continuing to serve the residents of the Bishop’s Waltham electoral division.”

Rob Humby spent many years as a Winchester councillor, holding a variety of roles including Deputy Leader and Leader of the Council. 

Since 2013, he has represented the Bishop’s Waltham electoral division at Hampshire County Council and has previously held the position of Cabinet Member for Economy, Transport and Environment. 

He was Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council between 2019 and 2022, and was elected County Council Leader in May 2022, following the resignation of Councillor Keith Mans.

A new Hampshire County Council Leader will be elected at the meeting of the County Council’s AGM on Thursday May 23rd 2024.