GORDON Matheson will step down as leader of Glasgow City Council next month.

He has exclusively told our sister paper the Evening Times he plans to quit the most powerful job in Scottish local government at the council meeting on September 10.

Mr Matheson had put his name forward to be deputy leader of Scottish Labour which would have guaranteed him a place at the top of a Labour regional list and a seat at Holyrood but lost out to Alex Rowley.

He has today told his Labour colleagues he will quit as leader next month and return to the back benches to represent his ward of Anderston/City.

Mr Matheson has said he intends to remain on the city council until the next local government elections in 2017 when he plans to leave the local authority.

However his decision to quit is likely to result in approaches from outside organisations and he has not ruled out the possibility of contesting a seat at Holyrood.

Mr Matheson had initially intended to hold on as council leader until the Labour group's AGM which is likely to be held in February next year but changed his mind and decided to go early.

The top politician explained: "By confirming the date, the process can begin to affect a smooth transition to a new leader in time for the next meeting of the full council.

"The new leader will then have plenty of time to make their own mark in advance of the council elections in 2017.

"Being leader of the city I love has been the greatest honour of my life.

"It is not a job for the faint hearted, especially given the budget cuts we have had to contend with but I would not have missed this experience for the world.

"I am ready to pass the baton to the next leader but not before thanking from the bottom of my heart all of the dedicated and professional public servants who work across the council family, my fellow councillors especially my colleagues in the Labour group, everyone across the city and beyond who has worked alongside me in recent years to make Glasgow better and above all the people of Glasgow. None of this would have been possible without you.

"We have every reason to be proud of our city and we can look forward to the future with great confidence. Let Glasgow Flourish."

Mr Matheson, who is graduate of both Glasgow and Strathclyde universities, is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

He was first elected to the city council in May 1999 as the Labour councillor for the Merchant City and prior to being elected leader in May 2010 served in a number of roles including education convener and City Treasurer.

As leader he established the Commonwealth Jobs and Graduate Funds, approved a scheme to reduce Glasgow's landfill by 90% and introduced winter fuel payments for city pensions.

He embarked on the £250million refurbishment or rebuild of every primary and additional support for learning school in the city and launched the award-winning People Make Glasgow brand.

Despite predictions of an SNP landslide in the City Chambers, he led Labour to victory in 2012 securing an overall majority and was named Local Politician of the Year in the Herald awards of 2012 and 2014.

Last year he led the city during the Commonwealth Games which have been billed the best ever and successfully negotiated with governments at Westminster and Holyrood the largest City Deal in the UK. It will fund £1.13billion of infrastructure projects across Glasgow and surrounding council areas.

Mr Matheson was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's 2015 New Year Honours List for services to local government and the community and Glasgow was name UK Council of the Year.

He said: "One of the judgements of politics is to know when to move on. The time is right for me to consolidate the successes I have enjoyed in Glasgow in recent years and progress to the next phase in my career.

"Glasgow is Scotland's big success story. There is buzz about this city. We have a great international reputation following the delivery of the best ever Commonwealth Games. Our population is growing again and educational attainment in the city is improving every year.

"Personal highlights of my time as leader include welcoming Pope Benedict to Glasgow, leading Labour to an overall majority at the 2012 council elections, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and successfully negotiating the biggest City Deal in the UK that will create 29,000 new jobs.

"I am most proud of my administration's promotion of the Living Wage and our £50million Glasgow Guarantee that has created 6000 jobs and apprenticeships for young people, graduates, armed forces veterans, care leavers and those aged 50 and older.

"Every one of those jobs and training places provides an opportunity for that individual and their families to grow in confidence and get on in life. That is why I came into politics.

"Undoubtedly the lowest points during my leadership were the Clutha helicopter tragedy and the Queen Street bin lorry crash.

"We will never forget those who lost their lives or were injured and our hearts go out to the families and loved ones whose lives were changed forever.

"The selfless and generous response of the emergency and public services and the people of Glasgow helped the city to deal with these tragedies with dignity and resilience."

Nominations for the new council leader are expected to open within days with Labour choosing its new group leader on September 9 and the full council voting on who should be council leader the following day.