A LEADING Tory councillor is to quit to concentrate on her career and family.

Louise Burdett is to stand down after four years as Conservative councillor for Kursaal ward, Southend, at the local elections in May.

The mother of two baby girls, who was elected with the highest ever number of votes for a Conservative in the traditional Labour ward, said: “After four fulfilling years serving the people of Kursaal ward, I have very reluctantly taken the decision to stand down.

“I am now the mother of two lovely girls and I realise I simply cannot combine motherhood, my work as a teacher and continue as a councillor for Kursaal without neglecting one of these. I would like to thank all the residents.”

During her time in office, Mrs Burdett, who is on maternity leave from her job at Basildon Lower Academy, has set up a numeracy and literacy club for children during the summer holidays in St John the Baptist Church, Southend, set up a film club in Centre Place, in the Woodgrange Estate, and taken food to the homeless.

Ofsted inspector Jane Ladner will replace her as the Tory candidate for the ward.

Before becoming an inspector for the schools watchdog, Mrs Ladner, of Moat End, Thorpe Bay, was assistant headteacher of Southend High School for Girls and worked for Southend Council’s department of children and learning.

Mrs Burdett said: “Jane cares passionately for families in need, especially where children are concerned.

“She wants to support continued improvement in our schools, social care and health systems. If elected, she would work tirelessly for the vulnerable people of our town.”

Labour candidate Charles Willis, of Woodcote Road, Leigh, is Mrs Ladner’s main competitor for the ward.

Conservative leader Nigel Holdcroft, who is also stepping down as council leader and West Leigh councillor in May, said: “Louise has been a strong and articulate council member and has worked hard and effectively for the interests of the residents of Kursaal.

“I am disappointed she has decided to stand down, but understand how difficult it must be to juggle her council responsibilities with caring for young twins. I amsure she will return to frontline politics in the future as she still has much to offer.”