SURREY Heath Mayor Mrs Andree Neighbour is quitting the council in May to spend more time with her four grandchildren.

She has decided not to defend her Camberley Town ward seat at the forthcoming elections.

Councillor Neighbour, a Conservative, has been a member of the council since 1995.

She said last Friday: "I've thoroughly enjoyed my time on the council, but I decided 18 months ago that I wouldn't seek re-election.

"I want to see more of my grandchildren, none of whom live around here, and my commitment to looking after my mother is growing."

She is also looking forward to having more time to pursue her hobbies of watercolour painting, flower arranging and gardening.

"This will be the first time in my life that I've not had a working commitment," said Mrs Neighbour whose husband, Maurice, is a Surrey county councillor.

A former Surrey Heath Mayor, Ray Christie, has also decided to stand down.

He is also a member of the council's controlling Tory group, and has represented Lightwater since 1992.

Because of a shake-up of the wards, an extra four seats will be contested at the elections on May 1.

Ninety-three candidates will battle it out for the 40 seats, with the Conservatives fielding candidates for each one. The Liberal Democrats have put forward 38 candidates, Labour 11, and Independents four.

Currently the Tories have a firm grip on the council, holding 22 of the 36 seats. The Liberal Democrats have eight seats, and Labour six.

Picture: Six-year-old Lina Nottrodt met the Mayor of Surrey Heath when Coun Andree Neighbour visted Crawley Ridge Infant School in Camberley.

The Mayor was there to present an award to Lina, whose picture won second place in the Surrey Heath in Bloom Competition.

Pupils performed songs for the Mayor at a special assembly.