SWINDON’S longest serving councillor has announced he will not be standing for re-election in May after more than 45 years.

Coun Mike Bawden (Con, Chiseldon and Lawn) has held a number of positions on the council since being elected in 1967.

Earlier this year he was diagnosed with leukaemia and, while the prospects of him making a full recovery look good, he has decided he cannot give his full commitment to the electorate.

He said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to represent so many residents of this Borough since I was first elected to Swindon Council in 1967 when I was 26.

“Over that time, Swindon has changed almost beyond recognition with thousands of new homes and new industries. “Where there were fields to the east, west, and north, there are now homes and places to work.

“While the prognosis for my leukaemia is very good, I will not be able to assume the rigours of either ward work or an election campaign. Since I cannot give my constituents the 100 per cent commitment they deserve, I have, with sadness, decided to step away.

“I would like to thank all my colleagues and officers, with whom I have worked over the years.”

He was first elected in 1967 to the old Swindon Council serving in the West Ward and South Ward until 1971. From 1973 until 1988 he was elected as part of the old Thamesdown Borough Council, before representing Coleview and Nythe for four years on Wiltshire Council.

He then served Lawns from 1993 until 1996 before the area came back under Swindon Council in 1996. During that time Coun Bawden has been one of the only people to be mayor of Swindon twice, in 1982 and again in 2006.

He was also council leader in 2003 for three years and is currently the cabinet member for strategic projects and transformation.

Council Leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “I would like to praise Mike for his four decades of public service to this town, including two terms both as Mayor and as Leader of the Council.

“I will miss his knowledge, experience, tenacity, and advice.

“Outside his political work, Mike set up the annual Marriott Charity Ball and Swindon Cares. He played a key role in the Great Ormond Street appeal in Swindon in the late 1980s.

“In 2003, Mike took over a minority administration running a council that, under his predecessors had been rated one of the worst in the whole country. “By 2006, when he stood down as leader, Swindon was well on the way to recovery. “Without the tough but necessary decisions he took then, we would not be the efficient, effective, and economical council that we are today.”