Page last updated at 14:34 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Glasgow council leader Steven Purcell stands down

Steven Purcell
Mr Purcell has quit after five years in the post

The former leader of Glasgow City Council is being treated in hospital for what his advisers described as "exhaustion".

Steven Purcell's resignation was announced at a special meeting of the council's Labour group.

Lawyers representing the 37-year-old politician said he was stressed from the Commonwealth Games and troubles at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

He has been replaced by his former deputy, Councillor Jim Coleman.

Mr Coleman described Mr Purcell's resignation as a "sad day" for Glasgow.

In a statement issued on behalf of the former leader, Peter Watson, of Levy & McRae solicitors said: "Earlier this morning Steven made the effort to telephone his resignation as leader of Glasgow City Council.

"Steven does this with a heavy heart but the strain of running one of the UK's largest authorities combined with the added pressures of the Commonwealth Games planning and the controversy over Strathclyde Partnership forTransport (SPT) has just proved too much for a man who lived and breathed Glasgow 24 hours a day."

'Business as usual'

Mr Watson added: "We have received an enormous groundswell of support from all sides of the political spectrum for Steven for which he is very grateful. His family would now like him to be left in peace to recover his health.

"It is now up to the Labour Group to decide what is the best way forward for their party, and the people of Glasgow, and I know Steven wishes them well in their deliberations."

The administration will continue to provide leadership for the city as a whole. As always, our focus is firmly on Glasgow's priorities
Cllr Jim Coleman
Interim council leader

Councillor Coleman, who was Mr Purcell's deputy, will fill the position until councillors elect a permanent replacement, probably after the general election.

He said: "The Labour group has accepted Councillor Purcell's resignation as leader. What's important now is that the people of Glasgow know that, as far as the council is concerned, it's business as usual.

"The administration will continue to provide leadership for the city as a whole. As always, our focus is firmly on Glasgow's priorities."

Mr Purcell was not at the short meeting of the Labour councillors, in which they were told of his decision to step down.

His Purcell's colleagues were said to have become aware he was considering resignation on Saturday.

He then confirmed his intention to step down late on Monday evening.

Earlier Jack Irvine, a spokesman for Mr Purcell said he had been "under enormous pressure".

Under pressure

He added: "Steven agreed to seek medical help immediately and subsequently he is now under doctor's orders."

Glasgow City Council has been contacted by lawyers representing Mr Purcell and have agreed to make no official statement on his health.

I regret that Steven is not going to be with me to see that great project (the 2014 Commonwealth Games) through to its completion
Alex Salmond
First minister

It is thought Mr Purcell, who has previously been tipped to become a future Labour leader at Holyrood or an MP, will stay on as a councillor.

A Scottish Labour Party spokesman said: "We hope Steven makes a full recovery."

First Minister Alex Salmond, who once told Mr Purcell to "grow up", praised the Labour politician's efforts to secure the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Glasgow.

He said: "That will be regarded as a fantastic achievement.

"There was great cooperation between the parties and from the city's point of view he was extremely effective in securing the Games.

"I am quite certain that Steven's successor will want to continue that close professional relationship we established."

He added: "I regret that Steven is not going to be with me to see that great project through to its completion."

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