A LABOUR Southend councillor has resigned after just a year in office to be closer to his family.

Gabriel Leroy, who represented Kursaal ward, has stepped down in a move which has sparked a by-election – set to take place on July 4 alongside the General Election.

The former councillor has been described as an “exceptionally bright young man with a fantastic future ahead of him” by Labour leader Daniel Cowan.

Mr Leroy revealed he is considering studying overseas and relocating closer to his family.

In a letter announcing his decision, Mr Leroy said: “Being elected as a councillor for Kursaal Ward in May 2023 was the greatest honour of my life and I have been privileged to work alongside some fantastic Labour councilllors on Southend Council to help build a city we can be proud of.

“However, since my election, my personal circumstances have changed significantly, including saying goodbye to my family as they moved away.

“As my studies in London are drawing to a close, I am starting to look at the next step in my life and debating whether to extend my studies or to enter into full-time work.

“One of the opportunities that has presented itself is the chance to relocate closer to my family, and to study overseas.”

Mr Leroy said he had been looking forward to working alongside newly elected Kursaal Ward councillor, Irene Ferguson.

However, he added: “I have thought long and hard about what I should do next as I am so excited by the opportunity Labour has to make a real difference in Southend after forming a new administration, and to continue to be mentored by the new Labour leader of the council.

“I desperately want to be a part of the incredible change that is coming but also want to explore some of the fantastic options I have for my future, and sadly I cannot do both.”

Mr Cowan said: “Gabriel put out a comprehensive statement explaining his decision and how he has reached it. He’s an incredibly bright young man with a fantastic future ahead of him.

“We would have loved him to stay on the council for many years to come but we appreciate his family circumstances have changed and he’s got to think of his long-term future. but I’m sure it’s not the last we will hear of him and we look forward to seeing where the future takes him.”