LEWISHAM East MP Bridget Prentice has announced she will stand down at the next general election.

Ms Prentice, aged 56, has represented her constituency for 17 years after beating Margaret Thatcher's former sports minister Colin Moynihan in a tight vote in 1992.

During a packed party member meeting on Friday night (Apr3) she announced her retirement saying: "It has not been an easy decision and I have taken some time to come to it but I feel that the time is right for me to move on and for a fresh candidate to represent Labour in Lewisham East.

"I have had the joy and privilege of representing this great community for 17 years and I hope that in that time I’ve helped in some way to make people’s lives better. It‘s what I went into politics to do.

"I am very proud of what Labour has achieved in Lewisham and in the country - higher standards in better schools, the lowest waiting times ever in our hospitals, continuing fall in crime, and young people with a real sense of their ability to succeed."

She added: "This is an entirely personal decision and I know I shall be leaving this job with a local party stronger than ever, keen to continue our successes, and I’ll be with them all the way.

"I’m not going anywhere. My home is here in the heart of Lewisham East and it is where I intend to remain."

Meanwhile Conservative party candidate Jonathan Clamp responded to the news by saying: "I wish Bridget Prentice well in her retirement but it’s hardly surprising that she has taken this decision.

"Opinion polls, our own canvassing and actual election results in Lewisham East say the same thing.

"Large numbers of former Labour and Lib Dem supporters are now voting Conservative."