ONE of Ryedale’s most senior councillors is to step down at this year’s district council elections.

Cllr Luke Ives, who is currently co-leader of the Conservative Group, has decided not to seek re-election when Ryedale goes to the polls in May.

He said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as a councillor on Ryedale District Council for the past eight years.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to stand down as it has been a pleasure to represent the people of Norton West.

“Highlights include leading the campaign against an asphalt plant with Norton Action Group, and more recently, voting to save the local swimming clubs.”

During his two-year tenure as chairman of policy and resources, Cllr Ives said he had overseen a huge change in the management of the council, pushed closer ties with North Yorkshire County Council and scrapped plans to move out of Ryedale House.

More recently, he has spearheaded plans for the council to facilitate the relocation of Malton Livestock Market.

Cllr Ives said: “Over the past few years, there’s been a significant reduction in government funding.

“This has meant some difficult decisions, but we’ve reorganised the council and stripped out waste to protect frontline services.

“There are big projects in the pipeline and this is an exciting time for the district.”

Cllr Ives became Ryedale’s youngest councillor when he was elected, aged 19, in 2011 for the Norton West ward. Three years later he became the youngest ever chairman of a local authority.

He said: “The issues decided by local government, such as housing, transport and education, can have a huge impact on people’s lives, particularly for young people. I hope my experience shows there is a valid place for young people in democracy.”

Cllr Ives, who is head of strategy for Malton-based Orbit Services, said he was stepping down due to work commitments.

“It will be sad to say goodbye, but now feels like the right moment to stand down so someone with more time can take up the role,” he said.

“I wish my colleagues well for the future and hope Ryedale can deliver for the public in the coming years.”