A BY-ELECTION will be held in Popley after a borough councillor announced she is standing down to care for her husband.

Mary Brian, who has represented Popley East for the last four years, has this week resigned from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council because she needs to spend more time caring for her husband, who has Alzheimer’s.

This has been Mrs Brian’s second stint on the council. She represented the Norden ward from 1980 to 1991.

She has been called a “true community champion” by Labour Party colleagues.

Mrs Brian told The Gazette: “I have really enjoyed both my stints on the council. It has been an interesting and exciting experience.

“The first time I was a bit younger and learned a lot about people’s problems – and I built on that during my second time as a councillor.

“I have loved having the opportunity to serve the community.”

The 75-year-old’s husband Frank, also 75, has suffered with Alzheimer’s for more than a decade, and his condition has deteriorated since Christmas.

Mrs Brian continued: “We have been very fortunate that, as it’s been very slow, he has had 10 good years but it has suddenly got a lot worse.

“I am a full-time carer now and finding it very difficult to do my job as a councillor, so it’s not fair on the people or my husband to continue doing both.”

By standing aside now, Mrs Brian said a by-election can be held at the same time as the local elections in May.

Mrs Brian is the mother of the borough’s Labour group leader, Cllr Laura James. Praising her mother’s hard work, Cllr James said: “She is going to be greatly missed. But the group are very supportive of her need to step down. Her commitment to the Labour Party has been an amazing achievement. She has helped drive forward massive investment in Popley in recent years.”

Shelley Phelps, 24, will contest the Popley East seat for Labour in the by-election.