A COUNCILLOR has said he is “extremely pleased for Andover” following the announcement that his long term political rival Ian Carr will step down as leader of Test Valley Borough Council.

Tony Hooke, who represents Andover South at Hampshire County Council, says the town can “move forward” when Con servative councillor Carr ends his 18-year stint as leader in May.

However, councillor Hooke was less pleased when describing his rival’s legacy, which he said contained a number of “damaging and contentious” decisions.

Reflecting on councillor Carr’s announcement, the outspoken independent said: “I am extremely pleased for Andover that Ian Carr has finally resigned as leader.

“Mr Carr presided over a num ber of extremely contentious and damaging policies to the town.

“To name a few: the disposal of Andover Guildhall, the pedestrianisation of the High Street and the erection of a “garden fence" along the A303, claiming it to be a quarter of a million pound sound barrier.

“His outrageous parking policies which deny the public the right to access the town centre, and its ever dwindling number of shops.

“But make no mistake, his biggest fiasco to date is to condemn Andover to a smaller leisure centre for the next 50 years.”

Councillor Hooke, who has had an ongoing public feud with councillor Carr over the last five years, believes his rival’s decision to resign been sparked by the upcoming Hampshire Coun ty Council elections.

However councillor Carr, who said he would not give “any oxygen” to reply to councillor Hooke’s latest “ramblings”, said last week that his decision to resign was made in “early 2016”.

Despite this, councillor Hooke believes his rival’s decision to step down was due to him being an “electoral liability” and has now tipped former Mayor Iris Andersen as a front runner for the role.

He went on to dismiss councillor Phil North’s chances, describing him as a “career politician” and saying it would be a “catastrophe” if he was to take up the role of leader.

Councillor Tracey Preston, speaking for councillor North, said: “Mr Hooke’s unfortunate comments about councillor North show how afraid he is of the effective, positive leadership Phil would bring to Test Valley.

“This is exactly the reason I am supporting him in the contest to replace councillor Carr as leader.”

Meanwhile, MP Kit Malthouse has praised councillor Carr’s achievements over the last 18 years.

In a statement, he said: “After 18 years in the role councillor Ian Carr has announced that he is retiring and standing down as Leader of Test Valley Borough Council.

"Ian has been a good friend to me and a great support.

“Always open and straightforward, he has been a real pleasure to work with.

“Ian leaves a legacy of a borough council in great shape and Test Valley rated one of the best places to live in the UK.”