Bede MacGowan: Years of dedicated service deserve electorate's thanks
LAST week I suggested there might be more to David Heath's removal from the cabinet than met the eye. That suspicion remains, but not many will have expected the announcement of an end to his time as an MP just days later.
Whether a Liberal Democrat supporter or not, few would claim that Mr Heath does not deserve a big thank you for the many years he has dedicated to serving the people of Frome and Somerton.
First elected to Parliament by only 130 votes in 1997, he increased his majority over his subsequent three election victories, so that by 2010 it had grown to 1,817. Those are not the results of an MP who is not appreciated by his electorate.
The youngest ever leader of Somerset County Council, at just 31 in 1985, as MP Mr Heath went on to be heavily involved in campaigning for the survival of honey bees, securing more PCSOs and road safety campaigns, as well as against a proposed hike in the tax on cider.
He has supported agriculture and local industry, as well as calls for a town centre police station and has cut the ribbon on hundreds of Frome businesses over the years. He was also known to visit every village in his constituency during the summer recess – that is around 100 villages.
Of course, no politician is everyone's cup of tea, but what seems certain is that Mr Heath's decision not to stand again will make Frome a key battleground at the next general election in 2015.
And that it will be a scrap between the current Coalition partners makes it all the more interesting.
Or could the Independents for Frome decide to make a run for the Westminster corridors of power?
Thank you David – now, let battle commence.