A VETERAN Winchester councillor has called time on a political career spanning 35 years.

Labour’s Chris Pines will retire at May’s election, the party has announced.

The 70-year-old was first elected to Winchester City Council in 1980 and was mayor of the city from 2007 to 2008.

Cllr Pines resigned as chairman of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee last month amid controversy over its watchdog role for the Silver Hill scheme. The body has also been accused of failing to hold city chiefs to account over River Park Leisure Centre, which campaigners claim has been unlawfully kept from public tender.

He said: “You get to a point where you have been there for a long time and you may well become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. With the best will in the world, one gets set in one’s ways.

“You can get [a mentality] of ‘this is the Winchester way’ - that’s always a disaster.”

Young Labour activist Ben Farnes will fight Cllr Pines’ St John and All Saints seat at the polls in May.

Mr Farnes, a Southampton University student and former Member of Youth Parliament, promised to prioritise the living wage, housing costs and public transport if elected.

He said: “I was born in Winchester, work here and care deeply about the community.

“It is a tremendous privilege to have been selected. Chris has served the people of Winnall and Highcliffe with great dedication over many years and I look forward to the opportunity of carrying on his good work.”

Cllr Pines will continue to campaign for the party and pursue community projects. A new leader for the city council’s Labour group will be elected at its annual general meeting later this year.