Caerphilly County Borough Council leader Harry Andrews is to stand down on May 8.
The Gilfach councillor is retiring to spend more time with his family.
Cllr Andrews, who was made an MBE in 2003, said: “In the face of the Tory-led Westminster Government’s cuts in councils’ funding, we have protected frontline services for the people of Caerphilly County Borough.
“For me, this has been all about putting our Labour values into practice – protecting, investing in and empowering our communities. I’m honoured to have led our Council for the last two years, and in our last Labour-led administration of 2004 to 2008.
“I wish my successor as leader well, and they can count on my full support in future.”
Caerphilly AM, Jeff Cuthbert, commended Cllr Andrew’s work as leader.
He said: “Harry’s commitment to public service is second to none. He’s been a great ambassador for Caerphilly Borough and I’m sure he will continue to serve his Gilfach constituents to the very best of his ability from the back benches.
“Harry has earned respect from all sides of the political spectrum and I wish him all the best for the future.”
Deputy Leader Keith Reynolds said: “This is a sad day for Caerphilly County Borough. Harry Andrews has been the outstanding public servant in Caerphilly since our Council was created in 1996.
“Harry’s strong leadership has seen our Council through good times and bad, and he leaves our authority in a stronger, better-managed position than it was when we took office in 2012, thanks to him.
“It’s been a privilege to call Harry a friend, and to have served with him in office.”
Cllr Andrews will continue as the councillor for Gilfach and will formally retire as Labour group leader on May 6 and as council leader on May 8.
Nominations for Labour group leader are open until Friday May 2 with a vote taking place on May 6 before full council elects a new leader on May 8.
Caerphilly Council Deputy Mayor, and member for Bargoed ward, Cllr David Carter, said: “I’ve known Harry Andrews for 50 years and worked with him in the Labour movement and community for 40.
“His dedication to serving the people of Gilfach, of the Rhymney valley and of Caerphilly County Borough is second-to-none.
“While it’s sad that Harry will no longer serve as Leader of our Council, I’m delighted that he’ll remain as member for Gilfach.”
Colin Mann, leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly Council, said: “I wish Harry and his family all the best for the future as he steps back from the frontline of local politics.
“Harry has been a stalwart for the Labour Party for decades and while we’ve had our disagreements, I’ve always found Harry to be very personable and approachable.
“I think everyone would recognise Harry has made a huge contribution to public life, both to his ward and to local government generally.”
Islwyn MP Chris Evans has also praised Cllr Andrews’ work.
He said: “Harry has had an outstanding tenure as Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council and he will be greatly missed. His contribution to our community cannot be overestimated and his strong leadership and excellent reputation are testament to his hard work.
“I would like to pay tribute to Harry for all that he has achieved as Leader, and as an exceptional representative of the Labour Party.
“Although it is sad that Harry will no longer lead the council, I know that he will continue to fight for what matters to the people of Gilfach.”
Stuart Rosser, Interim Chief Executive of the council, added “It is with sadness and reluctance that I recognise Cllr Harry Andrews’ intentions –the passion he has for this county borough is truly humbling and he has been a pillar of strength for this council during both his tenures as leader.
“I wish Harry well, and look forward to continuing to work with him in his role as Gilfach ward member moving forward.”