PHIL DAVIES will step down as leader of Wirral Council and Birkenhead and Tranmere ward councillor next year.

Cllr Davies has decided to call time on his 28-year political career to 'spend more time with his family' and will not stand for re-election in May 2019.

He steps down at a time of unrest for Wirral's Labour party with Birkenhead MP Frank Field resigning as Labour whip in protest at what he called the 'toleration of anti-semitism' and 'culture of nastiness' among its membership.

Mr Field continues to serve his constituency as an independent Labour MP.

Earlier this month, Labour party sources said there had been a 'Momentum takeover' of the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP), which has seen top Wirral councillors lose their positions on its ruling executive committee including the Council's deputy leader Cllr George Davies, jobs and growth cabinet member Cllr Angela Davies and Cllr Chris Meaden.

In a letter seen by the Globe, Cllr Davies said: "After 30 years of public service, I have decided to call time on my political career and will not seek re-election to the Council in May 2019.

"This term of office as both councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere Ward and leader of the Council will be my last.

"By the end of my current term of office, I will have been a Councillor for 28 years and leader of the Council for seven years. I will celebrate my 60th birthday next year and, if you add the two years I worked as an officer with Wirral Council in the late 1980s, have served the residents of Wirral for half of my life.

"Public service is both a duty and a privilege and having had the chance to serve the residents of Birkenhead and Tranmere and be leader of Wirral Council is something I am extremely grateful for. But now, with three young grandchildren and another on the way, I'm looking forward to be spending more time with my family and hopefully visiting my youngest daughter who now lives in Canada.

"In the three decades I have been part of Wirral Council, much has changed. However, on reflection, there are some surprising constants. When I was first elected we had a Tory Prime Minister in open war with their own party over Europe, and now, nearly 30 years later, despite a period of relative calm under a Labour premiership, we are seeing another Tory Prime Minister failing to hold her party together on this issue.

"While the challenges of local government have evolved during my time as a councillor - budget cuts mean resources are stretched further than ever before - putting a Labour 'stamp' on the Council has always been my priority.

"Our mission of protecting the vulnerable, growing our economy and securing our environment has always guided our policies. I am proud that under my leadership Wirral was one of the first Councils to pay the Living Wage to all its employees.

"I was also pleased to see young people afforded new opportunities through the opening of The Hive and when Wirral signed the ethical care charter and developed initiatives such as exempting care leavers from paying Council Tax.

"Devolving power and putting it in the hands of local people is something I am passionate about, so I was exceptionally proud when, as the first chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, I signed the devolution deal with the government in November 2015.

"We are lucky to call Wirral home so I have always given a high priority to showcasing the borough on the national and international stage. High-profile events such as The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the Tall Ships, the River of Light fireworks display and just last week, the Giants Spectacular, ahve all helped put Wirral on the map and attract substantial jobs and investment to our borough.

"Representing the borough also brings more sombre occasions and, during my time as Leader, Wirral Council has honoured those who were tragically taken from us. I will always recall meeting the family of PC David Phillips who was killed in the line of duty in 2015 and opening the garden of remembrance for the 96 people who lost their lives at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

"To achieve out goals, now more than ever, we have to work in partnership with those who share our values. I have always believed in working as a team and am fortunate to have been supported by excellent colleagues in successive Cabinets and Labour Groups. I am also grateful for the work of many excellent officers during my time at Wirral Council and have been honoured to chair the Wirral Partnership and work in collaboration with key organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to deliver the 20 pledges of our Wirral Plan.

"Public service isn't for everyone, but the chance to make a difference in the lives of our residents is what inspires those who choose to seek office. From my time here members of Wirral Council, irrespective of their political allegiances, have worked extremely hard to improve the quality of life of their constituents and are driven first and foremost by meeting the needs of the communities they represent.

"May I thank everyone for their kindness and support during my three decades of service as a member of Wirral Council. It is an honour to be the Leader of the Labour Group and Leader of the Council and I look forward to watching the progress of the many projects launched during my tenure in office as they come to fruition over the coming months and years."