After nearly twelve years, Beckenham’s Member of Parliament Jacqui Lait revealed in September, in a letter to Tony Power, the Association Chairman, how she has chosen to ‘move over for a younger person’ and retire before the next general election in 2010, in which a ‘refreshing new candidate’ will be able to manage the ‘exciting years ahead’ for Beckenham.

Lait, who has been under scrutiny in recent months about the government expenses scandal in which she over spent a reported £7,000 of tax payer’s money to re-mortgage her flat in Beckenham, costing £250,000. Reports of outrageous claims on kitchen saucepans worth £160, a book case and a desk, in which she responded to being happy to ‘pay back the money quickly’ and ‘grateful’ to the fee’s office for ‘spotting this error’. Lait, of the conservative party and her previous work as MP in Hastings and Rye between 1992 and 1997, made political history when it was announced that she was to be the first MP to join the Tory Whips’ office. Despite reports over the past months, Lait was voted 45.3% over others in the election in 2005. Nick Perry, the former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, spoke in May about Lait’s expenses, and how they ‘don’t need another Jacqui Lait’.

Last year, Langley Park School for Girls visited the houses of Parliament, in which they met Lait, where she discussed her roll within her constituency. Emily Pillsbury, a student who attended felt that she was ‘a credit to Beckenham and was a genuine, nice lady’.

For many, the news is of a great loss, and that the Conservative party can find a ‘suitable candidate’ which can provide ‘a balance of experience and vitality, which is what she brought’. And despite controversial thoughts in light of recent months, I wish her a happy and well deserved retirement.