Tributes have poured in to Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood after he announced he will stand down after the next general election.
Mr Wood, who was elected as the constituency’s first Labour MP in 1997, announced his intention to retire at a meeting of Batley and Spen Constituency Labour Party on Thursday evening.
By the time of the next election Mr Wood will have served as Member of Parliament for 18 years.
He said: “It was a difficult decision but I think it is the right one and it will allow the Labour Party to find a new, younger candidate to carry on the work here.
“I want to be absolutely clear that I am standing down not winding down. My staff and I will continue to work and fight for local people as we have always done right up to the day of the next general election.”
Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, said: “Mike Wood has always been a dedicated constituency MP, providing a great service to his constituents across Batley and Spen – by the next election he will have served them for 18 years. He has been a tireless campaigner and a strong voice for his constituents in Westminster, always fighting for social justice and fairness.
“He is a man with Labour values at his core.”
Cleckheaton councillor and leader of Kirklees Liberal Democrats Kath Pinnock said: “Although we are political opponents in many ways, there have been many things we agreed on and campaigned for together.
He is not a careerist politician who disappeared to London to climb the slippery slope – he is a man who was always about looking after Batley and Spen as best he could.”
The local Labour Party will now begin the process of selecting a new candidate to fight the next election.
Ken Lowe, outgoing chairman of Batley and Spen CLP, said: “Mike is a fantastic MP who is devoted to serving this constituency and who has always prioritised doing just that. He has set a very high standard and we must now select someone who will serve Batley and Spen just as well – but he will be a hard act to follow.” Batley and Birstall News readers were quick to add their own tributes on our Facebook page.
Paul Bentley said: “He’ll be missed always been very helpful to my family, nothing was too much trouble for him.”
Kath Lamb said: “Mike, you have been with us a long time and worked hard for Batley and Spen. Let’s hope your replacement comes up to your standards.”