The leader of Greenwich Council Conservatives will step down from his position next month after five years in the role.

Cllr Matt Hartley, who represents the ward of Coldharbour and New Eltham, went public with the news on Friday evening, saying it was “time to pass the honour to someone else”.

Cllr Hartley has led the Greenwich Tories since 2015 after first being elected to the council during the 2014 local elections.

“My first aim was always to take us through the 2018 elections and to be honest I’m still buzzing from that Team Greenwich campaign and the amazing result we achieved together,” he said, of that year’s vote, which saw the Tories avoid a wipeout and win an additional seat to bring their number of representatives on Greenwich Council to nine.

He said the result “allowed us not only to carry on as a strong Opposition, but also bring about some real positive change for residents too”.

“100 per cent council tax support, the new Parks Fund, better support for care leavers and Armed Forces members/veterans, the cross-party commitment to Net Zero and a more tangible Carbon Neutral Plan – the list goes on and all of these are things we should all be really proud of.  None of them would have happened without our efforts as a group over the last five years,” he said.

“At the same time, we can point to millions of pounds of waste saved for the council taxpayer and other successes arising from our alternative Budgets – as well as what we’ve done as a responsible Opposition in uniting across party lines when we had the Far Right in the gallery, the recent anti-semitic graffiti and other incidents.”

Cllr Hartley, who stood as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich in 2015 and for Eltham in 2017, emphasised that he had no plans to step down from his council role despite relinquishing the leadership.

“I also fully intend to stand again in 2022 (selectorate and electorate willing!) and hope to carry on as a councillor long beyond that,” he said.

He said he’d now be able to focus more of his time on ward-specific issues, as well as his role as a director at Greenwich and Bexley Credit Union.

The Conservatives expect to name a new leader at their Annual General Meeting in early April.