THE leader of the Forest Council, Cllr Mark Topping, has announced he is stepping down from the role.

He will give up the role from next Thursday (April 18), the day of the full meeting of the council.

A new leader will be voted on for the council which has been run by the Green Party since May last year.

Cllr Topping, the Green councillor for Lydney West and Aylburton, said family and work needs meant he could not give the commitment needed to be leader of the council.

He said: “After careful consideration it is with considerable regret that I make this announcement. 

“It has been a real honour to serve the district in this way since May last year.  

“However, both family and work commitments mean that I am not able to continue giving the role the time and commitment it needs.  

“I will remain an active councillor representing my ward of Lydney West and Aylburton and an active member of the Green Group. 

“I will continue to work with colleagues across the council as we all endeavour to serve the best interests of residents and the district as a whole. 

“I have had fantastic support from both officers and members during my time as leader, for which I am deeply grateful and it has been a pleasure to work with colleagues across the council.” 

Speaking when he took on the role last year, he joked that “becoming leader must have been due to a momentary lapse of concentration”.

Cllr Topping, who is an actor and former newspaper reporter, moved to Aylburton with his family in 1999.

He said he agreed to stand for the council elections in 2019 and it was thought the Greens were unlikely to win

“I was not really active but I wanted to support the Green cause. It was ultimately the growing climate crisis.

“There was no likelihood of getting in. But then it was a three way split and in 2019 both Labour and the Conservatives seemed unpopular and I came in through the middle and won that seat by 12 votes.”