WIRRAL Council leader Pat Hackett is to retire from politics later this year.

Cllr Hackett - who has been a councillor since 1994 and took over as the authority's leader from Phil Davies less than a year ago - announced that he was stepping down in a statement this afternoon.

Reflecting on his time in politics, he said it had been a "pleasure and my privilege" to serve Wirral.

He added: "My years of service have been a defining period in my life and I am filled only with a happy nostalgia as I announce that I will be retiring as leader of the council and as a ward councillor this year.

"The last year has been a great experience and I am proud to have been the Leader of a council that has grown so much, in such a short time.

"During the largest regeneration scheme that Wirral has ever seen, it has been a privilege to work alongside so many ambitious individuals, leading a strong workforce to achieve collective goals and ultimately, make massive strides in our vision for the Borough.

"It has also been an honour to serve the residents of New Brighton as their councillor.

"Over the years I’ve watched the area develop and I’m sure I’m not alone in occasionally standing back to marvel at how the town has evolved thanks to the many people who have been involved in its regeneration at one time or another.

"And I am of course extremely proud to have served as a member of the Labour party, which has presented me with many opportunities, including the privilege to be Mayor of Wirral in 2016 and to share in ideas and campaigns alongside many talented councillors and members.

"After a fantastic 26 years I have decided that I intend to retire this year.

"I look forward to watching Wirral continue to grow and prosper, as I know it will."

Liberal Democrat leader Phil Gilchrist said: "I have always found Pat easy to work with, genuine, practical  and down to earth.

"He worked hard to turn New Brighton round and secure investment in it.

"He can look back with pride at that achievement.

"Pat’s approach helped build trust between the political parties over the past ten months.  

"With his departure the future direction of his party is once again up for grabs."