The LEADER of Pembrokeshire County Council has confirmed he will be stepping down from the role.

Cllr David Simpson said he will not be standing as leader at the authority’s AGM in May.

Cllr Simpson has been the county councillor for Lampeter Velfrey since 2004.

He became leader of the council in 2017 when the ruling Independent Political Group (IPG) lost control of the council.

Cllr Simpson had left the ruling IPPG group, saying that he had lost confidence in the way cabinet was being run by Cllr Jamie Adams, the leader at the time.

A councillor without affiliations to any political party he was asked to become leader.

He is believed to be the only council leader in the whole of the UK who is not affiliated to a political group and is not the leader of that council’s largest political group.

“After the downfall of the IPG in 2017 I was approached to be leader by Plaid, Liberals, Labour and the unaffiliated members to take on the challenge,” he said. “Never in my political career have I ever said that I wanted to be the leader.”

But lead he did, especially through the Covid years where he released a weekly message to keep up morale and keep people informed.

Cllr Simpson was re-elected as leader for a two year period in May 2022 and narrowly survived a vote of no confidence, called in by the Independent Group, in May last year.

Cllr Simpson reacted to the no confidence call by saying: “We have brought democracy back into the chamber and moved away from shabby deals done behind closed doors and from senior officers leading members by the nose, backed by the old and unaccountable Independent Political Group bloc vote.

“This administration can be proud that we have worked hard to sort out the finances, left in a mess by the [previous ruling group].

“I don’t believe there’s any desire to go back to those days, either among my fellow councillors or more importantly amongst the public in Pembrokeshire.”

Among his greatest achievements of his seven years as leader he cites creating an open and transparent policy and choosing a cabinet on their ability and with ambition, not their political group.

In terms of taking Pembrokeshire forward he is pleased to have played a part in attracting more than £60m in grants for town centre regeneration and working with partners to enable Pembrokeshire’s Celtic Freeport bid to go forth and be accepted by the government.

He also lists setting up grants to purchase homes for residents, bringing some home care packages back in house, starting to build homes as highlights.

Cllr Simpson added that he was proud of leading the council that released the report into the authority’s employment of paedophile youth worker Mik Smith in full and ‘not keeping anything as secret’.

“Throughout it all I have been a leader with only one vote,” he said. “I am the only leader in the country, I am told, that is not in a group and not the leader of the largest political group.”

Cllr Simpson confirmed that he would stand down this spring but it is understood that he will remain as county councillor for Lampeter Velfrey.

“I will not be standing at the next AGM in May. It has been seven years, and it is time for someone else to take the helm,” he said.

“It is a very demanding position, one that I have enjoyed, but it does not give me any time for my wife, children and the grandchildren.

“It is time to stand aside and let someone else do the job. I have had the privilege of working with some outstanding cabinet members, officers and colleagues in the chamber.”