FORMER MP Peter Pike yesterday announced he will stand down as chairman of Burnley Labour Party next month.

The 78-year-old, who represented the town in the House of Commons from 1983 until 2005, will remain an active member.

Mr Pike said he would be giving up party office after almost 60 years of holding several positions including Coal Clough councillor, borough leader and Parliamentary opposition spokesman on rural affairs and then housing.

The father of two daughters, Carol and Jane, said he would spend more time at home looking after wife Sheila and 'trying not to get under her feet'.

Current Burnley MP Julie Cooper said: "Peter has given outstanding service to Burnley Labour Party.

"Of course we all know he must retire some time.

"He will be sadly missed."

Hertfordshire-born Mr Pike, who came to the town in 1963, said: "As the Burnley Labour Party prepares for its annual meeting to be held on February 15 , I have made it clear I am not seeking re-election as chairman.

"I did state this would be the case a year ago.

"I will be 79 in a few months time and have held one office or another in the party since 1958 having joined in 1956.

"I will, of course, remain very much a party member.

"I believe that the party needs a younger and much more active chair to lead the campaign against this appalling Tory Government,

"David Cameron is destroying local government and our health service and many people are paying a harsh price for the worst Tory government I have ever seen.

"I think this Tory government is worse than Margaret Thatcher's in the 1980s.

"Whilst I will obviously miss my role in the party, time does move on and I believe it is right to stand down at this time.

"Although still in good physical and mental health, I am not as fit as I used to be.

"Going up and down Burnley's hills takes it out of me."

Former Liberal Democrat MP Gordon Birtwistle said: "Peter was well know in the town and very dedicated to it.

"He will be a loss to Burnley Labour Party."

Mr Pike will remain chairman of the Clarets Trust, a director of the Pennine Community Credit Union and chairman of Burnley Civic Trust.