The city council's opposition leader has confirmed he will be stepping down.

Dan Fitzhenry, a former leader of the city council, has announced this evening that he will not be running in the next local election.

The Harefield ward councillor and leader of the Southampton Conservative group will be leaving to pursue “new business opportunities” and travelling.

Cllr Fitzhenry was first elected to the ward in May 2008.

From 2018 he led Tory councillors until their defeat to Labour in 2022, when he was replaced by Marley Guthrie.

He returned to the helm of the Tory party as leader late 2022. 

He also served as leader of Southampton City Council between May 2021 and May 2022.

The civic leader had his first taste of politics when he was elected as the Southampton's first member of the youth parliament at age 15.

In a statement, he said: “It was an honour and incredibly exciting experience to be Leader of the Council from May 2021 to May 2022, enacting and delivering our plan to get Southampton moving, freezing council tax, doubling road investment and marketing our great city on the world stage to grow our city to its full potential.

“I am very grateful to the people of Harefield, my entire team and all of you who have supported and encouraged me on this journey, I have learnt so much, and it has been so much fun.”

READ MORE: Southampton City Council leader Satvir Kaur resigns

Cllr Fitzhenry added will remain in post until the next local election on May 2.

He said: “I will continue as a councillor for the Harefield Ward, and as leader of the opposition until the local elections on the 2nd May, working with my team to hand over to a new Conservative leader after the elections and in the meantime ensure thorough scrutiny of the Labour council during these challenging times.”

Moving forward, Mr Fitzhenry said he will focus on new business opportunities and travel more as he moves into the “new chapter of my life”.

He described the last 16 years of local politics as a “great journey” adding: “I am going to miss the 'cut and thrust' of Southampton politics, but it’s time for something new for me, thank you.”

It comes after Satvir Kaur, the leader of Southampton City Council stepped down last year from her position to fight the next general election.

Cllr Kaur had been in the role since Labour regained their majority in the city council in 2022, becoming the first female Skikh council leader in Britain.

She is vying for Labour MP Alan Whitehead’s Southampton Test seat at the general election.

It is thought this will take place later this year.