THE leader of the Liberal Democrat party in Hartlepool has resigned to spend more time with his family.

Councillor Andrew Ward, 29, who works as a bio-medical scientist at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, was elected to serve the Brinkburn ward in 1999.

He succeeded Councillor Arthur Preece as Liberal Democrat leader last May, but said he found it increasingly difficult to combine work, family and politics.

Coun Ward said he wanted to spend more time with his young family, including his wife, Liza, who is also a Liberal Democrat councillor.

He said: "Having a family and trying to cope with the position as group leader, under the new political arrangements, became very difficult and strenuous."

He thanked constituents and friends on the council. He also thanked work colleagues for their support and his family for their patience.