Labour Councillor Ian Maher is preparing to resign as Leader of Sefton Council, OTS News learned.
He will retain his position as councillor for Netherton and Orrell ward, where he has sat since 1996.
Sefton will now begin the process of electing new leader.
Cllr Maher was elected as Leader of the Council in 2015, after then-leader Peter Dowd became the MP for Bootle.
He was tasked with steering the borough through the coronavirus pandemic but the Council has regularly faced criticism for delivery of services under his leadership, notably over Children’s Services.
A spokesperson for Sefton Council told OTS News: “We can confirm that Cllr Maher has decided to step down from his role as Labour Group and Council leader.
“Cllr Maher has asked the Labour Group Executive to start the process for electing his successor as soon as possible.
“This process does not affect the day-to-day operations of the Council and once it has been completed, appropriate arrangements will be made to appoint the new Leader of Sefton Council in line with the Council’s constitutional requirements.”
Cllr Maher said: “Having spent over 20 years as a cabinet member including as leader since 2015 I have decided to retire as leader and to return to the back benches.
“I leave leadership of the Labour group in a strong position locally, having seen our Council majority grow year on year and I am particularly proud to have seen us gain council seats during my leadership in Southport, which was once considered to be unthinkable.
“I would like to thank the Labour group for the support they have given me during very difficult times for local government and wish my successor well for the future.”