A council leader is stepping down because he wants to spend more time with his family and running his business.

James Page has been at the helm of Lewes District Council since February 2012.

But, after overseeing an overhaul of the senior management team and changing how the local authority runs, the Conservative politician has decided to walk away from being leader of the minority run authority in the new year.

He said he will remain a councillor, with deputy council leader Rob Blackman expected to succeed him in February.

Coun Page, who receives an allowance of £13,800 to do the role, said: “I’ve always been a bit of an ‘all’ type of person.

“I have two young children and a family I need to support and I still have a business I need to run.

“To be honest I have been doing three to four days a week at the council and it does not actually pay a working wage.”

Coun Page listed improving customer services, working smarter and saving money as among his priorities.

During his time, he received some criticism for “secretive” decision-making and overseeing the recruitment of three new council directors.

He also agreed to sell off the recreation ground in Newhaven to Kuwaiti developers for their plans to build the ‘world’s largest water park’, which have now been dropped.

Coun Page said: “We’re picking up a lot of pace now. We have three new directors who are very energetic in consolidating change.

“I don’t need to be ‘shoulder to the wheel’, as there’s a whole lot of new blood now, looking to do things.

“The district will become better and better and I’ll still be in the background with some ideas.”

The council is currently run by a minority Tory Adminstration with 20 Conservatives, 18 Liberal Democrats, two Ukip and one independent.

Coun Page added: “There have been some people that do not like the idea of working across the board but they some time you have to put the benefit of the wider area ahead of politics.”

Chris Bowers, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the local authority, said: “I have never doubted that James Page has pursued what he believed was right, even if I have disagreed with a lot of what he has tried to do.

“While he can be very abrasive, there’s no doubt some of his personal skills have been of immense value to the council.”