A LONG-STANDING councillor and former mayor of Bury will be standing down after 38 years.

The ‘father of the council’ Cllr Alan Matthews of Besses Ward, is the longest standing member at Bury Council and will be stepping down in May due to ill health.

Cllr Matthews, aged 73, has represented Besses since 1979 and served as the borough's mayor in 1989/90.

He said: “I would like to thank the people of Besses for their support over the decades. It has been an honour to serve them.

“Unfortunately I am not as mobile as I used to be and think now is the right time to hand over to someone else.”

Council leader Cllr Rishi Shori praised Cllr Matthews for his service, and said: "Alan is hugely respected figure in local politics.

“He has served this borough with distinction and his dedication to the local community has been incredible. He will be sorely missed.”

A by-election to replace Cllr Matthews will take place on May 4.

Labour has selected former councillor and NHS worker Andrea Simpson to be their candidate.

Ms Simpson said: “Alan Matthews is almost irreplaceable, but I will work hard for the people of Besses and fight to protect local public services such from Tory Government cuts.”

Cllr Matthews added: "Andrea is hugely experienced in public service and passionate about local issues. She is an excellent candidate and will be a fantastic councillor for Besses if elected."