FORMER Rochford District Council chairman Robin Allen is leaving life as a councillor behind for a career in the ambulance service.

Mr Allen, 59, retired this week from being an Independent member for the Barling and Sutton ward, after a 16-year career in local politics.

Mr Allen made a comeback in last May's local elections after a five-year absence from the council, but has also been training with the London Ambulance Service.

The father-of-five, who lives in The Crofts, Little Wakering, said: "I can't give what I should be giving to the council.

"I've loved my council work, but I've never had so much job satisfaction as I have now.

"When I was self-employed, I could devote time to meetings and the public.

"But when I was recently based at Hillingdon Hospital, in London, I was doing 12-hour shifts and travelling for five hours so I had no time left over.

"The ambulance work is something I really love doing. So I felt it was best for me to step down from the council and let somebody else do it."

Mr Allen, who became council chairman for a year in 2002, joined the ambulance service last year after a career as a self-employed builder.

The grandfather-of-two, who has lived in the Barling area for 23 years, will be part of the accident and emergency support crew, helping paramedics.

Looking back at his time on the council, he said: "One of the toughest experiences was fighting for the rubbish tip in Barling and the road leading to it, between 1987 and 1988.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my year as chairman, because you're meeting lots of people from different walks of life all the time."