Former leader Gavin Callaghan has stepped down from Basildon Council.

The Labour councillor, who represented Pitsea North West, has resigned with immediate effect.

In a statement, released on his social media, Mr Callaghan explained the reasons behind the move - which include spending more time with family and pursuing other interests both at home and abroad.

Mr Callaghan was the spearhead behind Basildon Town Centre's masterplan regeneration, which included plans for up to 4,000 high-rise homes in the town centre, a 5,000-seat arena, new transport hub and improvements to the Towngate Theatre.

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He said: "I want to say a huge thank you to the people of Pitsea North West for the honour of being elected three times and for serving you the past decade.

"Today I informed the Chief Executive that I’m stepping down from the council with immediate effect.

"I want to spend more time with my family and pursue other interests at home and abroad which will mean I can no longer give the council and my constituents my undivided energy and attention.

"I’m proud of my time as a councillor. I won my seat three times, taking it off a Conservative and was never beaten by a Tory or UKIP, I led the Basildon Labour Group for 6 years out of the darkness and I led the council for a third of my time in office, including being elected the youngest council leader in the UK in 2017 aged 28.

"I hope my successor is Labour and I wish them every happiness in representing the best seat on the council.

"Keep in touch and keep believing in Basildon. I know I will."