LABOUR stalwart Richard Fletcher has received glowing tributes for his lifetime's service to local people.

The veteran Radcliffe councillor and three-time mayor is stepping down next month at the local elections and will not defend his Radcliffe North seat.

The Mayor of Bury, Councillor Roy Walker, noted his "most distinguished service over 38 years" at last week's full council meeting.

"With his wife Frances, they have been 'first citizens' three times," added Coun Walker, before joking: "He still keeps the tabs on his jackets in case he is needed again!

"He has a vast wealth of experience and his contribution will be greatly missed by everyone. I offer them only good wishes for future happiness and good health."

Council leader Derek Boden said he first met Coun Fletcher before the formation of the metropolitan borough.

"I didn't know that he held dual membership of two parties: the Labour Party and the Radcliffe Party!" he said.

"He has been a staunch defender of the people of Radcliffe, but not limited to those horizons. He has continued to be a doughty defender of the green spaces of this borough, and the citizens owe him a debt of gratitude for that."

Coun Fletcher expressed his sincere thanks for the tributes he had received.

"I've always considered it a privilege to serve the people of Radcliffe and Bury," he said.

"I have done what I could, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but I've made only one promise to people - I will do my best for them."

To applause from fellow councillors, he added: "I hope this council will improve so we can say we are the best in the country."

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