THE leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on New Forest District Council has stepped down after six years.

Cllr Harrison, who represents Totton South on the Tory-run authority, is also a county councillor for Totton and Marchwood and a member of the New Forest National Park Authority.

He used social media to announce his decision to step down as leader of the Lib Dem group on NFDC.

Cllr Harrison said: "I have been lucky and privileged to be the leader of the group for six years. In that period I have helped the group expand from just two councillors to 13, with representation across the New Forest.

"It's been great to see the talent used effectively to challenge and hold the Conservative administration to account.

"We have successfully exposed some major weaknesses in the way the council is being the run, whether it be car parking policies that don't work, the very poor consultation and broken promises on wheelie bins, the U-turn on leisure centres (which they said they wouldn't privatise but then did so)."

Cllr Harrison accused the Conservatives of "missing the boat" on investments and had imposed above-inflation rises in the council tax.

He also said the Tories had found themselves "out of step" by rejecting a Lib Dem motion to treat climate change as an emergency.

But he added: "All told, I think I have overseen a very successful six-year period as leader and am particularly pleased that other group members have demonstrated that they are more than capable of stepping up and taking on responsibility.

"With this in mind, I have decided it is time for me to step down as leader (without being pushed) and allow somebody else the opportunity to take over.

"A new leader will be elected tonight and I will of course be giving them my full support as we push on to the next level."