LEADER of Wiltshire council Jane Scott was given a standing ovation as she announced she was stepping down from the role in July.

Cllr Scott became emotional as she read out a statement to a full council annual meeting announcing her decision to give up the role after 16 years as council leader.

She said: “I hope the next ten years will continue to focus on what’s best for the people of Wiltshire and the team will continue to be a force to reckon with.”

Cllr Jon Hubbard said: “I can only understand the gut wrenching feeling you have of letting it go. I suspect there may be new opportunities for you elsewhere.

“I certainly know on the national stage within local government you will be missed. You are highly respected for much of pioneering work you have done. For that I am grateful. You made sure the council has a level of transparency that in some councils is sorely missed. I do know how hard you have worked.”

Cllr Ruth Hopkinson highlighted her work for women in politics and said this would be one of her legacies.

Cllr Christopher Devine said: “I know the time and hard work you have put into the role and it is inspirational. Now is the time for you to take a rest.”

It is not yet known who will stand to take over as leader of Wiltshire Council.

Cllr Scott was appointed the leader of the then Wiltshire County Council in 2003 and when the authority moved to unitary status in 2009 she was voted to lead the new organisation.

Baroness Scott was appointed an OBE in the 2010 New Year's Honours for services to local government.

Baroness Scott continued: "It has been my true privilege to serve as council leader for 16 years but the time now feels right to pass the mantle, and special responsibility, onto someone else.

"As you would expect in local government it's been challenging at times but what has got me up early every morning, and the reason I got into politics in the first place, is the drive and determination to try my absolute best on behalf of the people and communities of Wiltshire.

"I feel I am leaving the council in a good position and I'd like to thank all the staff and all members and partners. It has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to work with you all."