A FORMER leader of Wirral Council has retired after more than 40 years in local goverment.

John Hale was first elected in 1975 in Liscard Ward, where he served until 1991 when he was elected in the Hoylake and Meols ward, which he has represented until today.

He is the borough's longest-serving councillor.

In 1985, he was elected council leader.

He was leader of the Conservative Group for 22 years.

In recent years Cllr Hale has served on numerous council committees including audit and risk management, council excellence, standards and constitutional oversight and served in the Cabinet in the early days of the new Committee system.

A Chairman of governors at the Mosslands School for 15 years from 1975 until 1990, he was chairman of Governors at other schools including primary schools and middle schools in Wallasey.

Wishing him well in retirement Wirral Council leader, Cllr Phil Davies, said: "John has been a dedicated public servant.

"He has worked tirelessly to represent his constituents for over 40 years, and has contributed a great deal to Wirral.

"I wish him the best in his retirement from local government."

Cllr Ian Lewis, leader of Wirral's Conservative Group, said: "This is the end of an era for Wirral's politics.

"John has been a remarkable public servant for more than 40 years.

"The people of Hoylake and Meols, and Liscard before that had an effective and dedicated spokesman.

"The whole of the Conservative Party in Wirral sends our best wishes to John and Tricia on his retirement."

Cllr Phil Gilchrist, leader of Wirral's Liberal Democrat Group, said: "John is a man of great courtesy, with a grasp of detail and great acumen who made his mark despite ill-health which dogged him throughout his life.

"I wish him well in his retirement."

John is married to Tricia and they will be celebrating 52 years of marriage this year.

They have three children and seven grandchildren who all live in Hoylake.

Cllr Hale's former seat in Hoylake & Meols will now be filled in May's local elections.