ONE OF Hampshire's best-known politicians has quit public life after more than half a century.

Roy Perry, a member and former leader of Hampshire County Council, did not defend his Romsey Rural seat in this week's local elections.

Mr Perry, 78, became a councillor in 1970, when he joined Eastleigh Borough Council as a member for Chandler's Ford.

After he and his family moved to West Wellow he was elected to the local parish council and also joined Test Valley Borough Council in 1979.

He served on the authority for 16 years and was leader from 1985 to 1994, overseeing the provision of the Romsey Rapids complex.

Mr Perry became a Member of the European Parliament in 1994 and represented Wight and Hampshire South for ten years.

After winning a seat on Hampshire County Council in 2005 he joined the authority's ruling cabinet and was handed the brief for community development.

Later he became executive lead member for education and children’s services.

In 2013 Mr Perry succeeded Cllr Ken Thornber as leader of the county council. He held the position until 2019, when he was succeeded by the present leader, Cllr Keith Mans.

Speaking at the time he said: “I am fortunate to continue to enjoy good health but I judge now is a good and appropriate time to allow a new leader to take over the reins.

“All local government is under pressure but Hampshire County Council has faced up to those pressures better than most and is widely admired.

“I can confidently hand over to my successor a council and county in excellent shape."

On the national stage Mr Perry served as chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young Persons Board, speaking for education authorities across England.

He said: "This is a great area and it has been a privilege to serve Hampshire in so many ways.

"Whilst I shall miss the cut and thrust of active democratic participation I was always determined to go at a time of my own choosing. As they say, better to go a year too early than a year too late."

Mr Perry is married with two daughters, one of whom, Caroline Nokes, is MP for Romsey and Southampton North.

He became involved in politics after delivering leaflets for his maternal grandmother, who stood in local elections.

He said: "She was amongst the first generation of women to get the vote. She would be so proud of her great granddaughter, now an MP and Privy Councillor."