HYNDBURN MP Greg Pope is standing down in the next general election, he announced today.

Mr Pope revealed he would not be contesting his seat due to changes in his family circumstances and a wish to try something new.

He said it was not a sudden decision but was one he had been considering of a long time.

Mr Pope stressed that the move had ‘absolutely nothing’ to do with the MPs’ expenses scandal or the leadership of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

He said he had been waiting ‘for a lull’ to make the announcement, but that the expenses revelations had not made it possible.

Great Harwood-born Mr Pope has served as Hyndburn MP for more than 17 years.

He said he wanted to spend more time with his family and try something new while he was young enough.

“It is something I have been thinking about for a long time with my family and it seems like the right time,” Mr Pope said.

“My wife no longer works for Lancashire County Council.

“My elderly mother died a few months ago and my youngest son is now 18 years old.

“I’ve also been fortunate to represent in the House of Commons the town where I grew up, something which is increasingly unusual for a Member of Parliament.

“I have a great affection for the people of this area and want to thank them most sincerely for electing me to represent them four times. I’m extremely grateful.”

Mr Pope thanked Labour colleagues for selecting him to stand, adding: “When I was first chosen to contest Hyndburn there was a Conservative MP with a majority of 2,220.

“I am leaving a healthy Labour majority of 5,587 to my successor and he or she will have my strong support.

“I’m proud to be a member of the Labour Party and wish it well at the next election.

“I believe firmly that the best interests of my constituents are with Labour and I will work hard for the election of a Labour Government.

“But serving four terms in the House of Commons is enough.

“Since 1992 I have been working away from home several nights of the week most weeks of the year and it takes its toll.

“I don’t want to grow old in the House of Commons, and I think the right time to leave is whilst I am still young enough to find other challenges. The time is right to move on.”

Mr Pope thanked his staff who had helped him stage more than 1,000 advice surgeries, then pledged to work as hard as ever for his constituents before the next election.