KEITH MITCHELL has tonight confirmed he is standing down as leader of Oxfordshire County Council.

Mr Mitchell said he had decided to step down after notching up a decade overseeing the county.

He will not hand over the leadership until May and will continue as a backbench councillor representing Bloxham until 2013.

Mr Mitchell said tonight in a statement on his blog: "My reason for making the position clear now is to give my Conservative colleagues plenty of time to consider the issue of succession as leader of the Conservative group and, therefore, as leader of the council.

"The precise timing was determined by the fact that I completed 10 years as Leader of the Council on November 5 2011 and this seemed as good a day as any to announce my intention.

"I was elected to serve as a county councillor until the next elections in 2013 and will serve as a backbencher until then."

He added: "For me, this is not retirement. I hope to continue a working life, possibly in a political or public service role but without ruling out something in the private or voluntary sector.

"I will see what is our there once I step down from the very demanding job of leader of the council."

* Leave your thoughts on the end of a political era in Oxfordshire below. Please keep your comments of a sensible nature and without profanity.