A VETERAN councillor has confirmed he is stepping down through ill health after nearly 30 years of public service.

Coun John David, a former Liberal Democrat leader of Pendle Council, and until yesterday deputy leader in a coalition with the Conservatives, has triggered a July 3 by-election in his Old Laund Booth seat, which he has held since 1986.

Political rivals and colleagues were quick to praise the contribution of Coun David, who led the authority from 2008-09 to 2009-10 and has been ill for some time.

His term of office, which included his role as environmental services cabinet member and Lib Dem group leader, was due to run until 2015.

Coun Joe Cooney, council leader, said: “I am very sorry that John has had to stand down, especially as over the last couple of years, as leader and deputy leader, I have worked very closely with him and learned a lot.

“Regardless of whatever political party he may serve, if someone gives this length of service then they deserve the utmost respect.

“I wish John well and a speedy recovery so both he and his wife Judith can enjoy their retirement.”

His former Lib Dem colleague Coun Dorothy Lord said: “We are all very sad and dreadfully sorry to see John stepping down as a councillor and I think that everyone on the council would probably feel the same way.

“He has been poorly for some time but he still carried on because that is the sort of man he is.

“He is a very thoughtful and kind man – but still quite straight-talking obviously – and he will be missed.”

Coun Mohammed Iqbal, Labour group leader, said: “John has been a great servant of Pendle and will be missed in the council chamber by everyone.

“Whilst our politics were different and we argued on many occasions, I always respected John as an individual. He had the best interests of Pendle at heart. I wish him the very best of health.”

The last time the seat was contested in 2011, Coun David beat his Tory opponent Jill Hartley by 10 votes and the poll is expected to be just as keenly contested in five weeks’ time.