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David Heath MP to stand down at next election

LONG-STANDING MP David Heath has told his Somerton & Frome constituency party that he intends to stand down at the next election in 2015.

Speaking to a meeting of the local Liberal Democrats at West Camel on Friday 11th October, he told the meeting that after representing the area in public office for 30 years, the last 18 of which will have been as Member of Parliament, it was now time to move on to new challenges.

David Heath said, “It is always difficult to call time on something that has been such a large part of one’s life over so many years, but I think the right moment to do so is now approaching. By the time of the next election I will be 61 years old, and I will have represented Frome and Somerset for 30 years.

“This is not a recent decision. I promised my wife at the last election that I would not stand again, and I intend to keep that promise. I have hugely enjoyed the privilege of representing my community over the many years I have been involved, and I like to think I have made a difference, but now may be the right time for someone else to take on that responsibility.

“I would like to thank everyone who has given me their support over the years. I assure my constituents I will continue to represent them as well as I am able to over the next 18 months.”

David Heath was first elected to Somerset County Council in 1985 to represent Frome North. He was immediately elected as leader of the county council, at 31 years of age the youngest ever leader of a county council. He was subsequently chairman of the Avon & Somerset Police Authority, and leader of the Liberal Democrats in local government at national level.

In 1997 he was elected as Member of Parliament for Somerton & Frome, and has held the constituency at three subsequent general elections, each time increasing his majority in what has been a highly marginal seat. In opposition he served in a number of capacities on his party’s front bench, and was repeatedly shortlisted as Backbench MP of the Year.

Since the coalition government was formed in 2010, he has served in two ministerial positions, as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and more recently as Minister For Farming And Food.

Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats said, “David has been a formidable voice for Somerset in Parliament and an outstanding constituency MP for Somerton and Frome. His voice in Parliament will be much missed locally, but knowing him, I am sure that he will go on making a major contribution to both local and national politics.”

Deputy Prime Minister And leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said, “David Heath has been a huge figure in the Liberal Democrats in Somerset and Westminster for a long time.

“He is that rare kind of politician that is genuinely liked and admired on all sides of the House.

“David’s combination of brilliant oratory and brightly coloured socks visible on the front bench will be missed by people from all parties in Westminster.

“As well as being a fantastic constituency MP and passionate advocate of Somerton and Frome and Somerset as a whole, I am sure that David will be best remembered for his unrivalled commitment to and mastery of Westminster’s finest parliamentary traditions.”