WIRRAL’S longest-serving councillor is to step down at the next election – paving the way for the return of a former parliamentary candidate.
Cllr Kate Wood was first elected to the former shadow Wirral council in 1973, a year before the creation of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, and is also a long-standing member of Merseyside Police Authority.
She is set to be replaced by Leah Fraser, who was chosen through a ballot of local Conservatives as the party’s candidate for the Wallasey ward in next year’s elections.
Mrs Fraser said Cllr Wood would be a “hard act to follow” but she was “really pleased” to have been selected as the party’s candidate.
She suffered double election disaster last year, when she failed to unseat Wallasey’s Labour MP Angela Eagle and lost her Liscard seat on Wirral Council on the same night.
Mrs Fraser first joined the Conservatives when she wanted to improve a play area near her home.
After working with residents, almost £100,000 was raised for new equipment and soon after she was elected to represent Liscard and Egremont in 2003, unseating the senior Labour councillor, John Cocker.
She increased the Conservative vote in Wallasey in both the 2005 and 2010 general elections.
Mrs Fraser said since losing her council seat, she had “some time off” but now has a campaign plan in place.
She said: “I think the political landscape now means nowhere can be considered a safe seat, and I plan to work hard for residents.”
Cllr Wood, who was Wirral mayor in 2000 and will be 77 at the next election, said there was “no particular reason” for not standing again, but with her term of office due to end in 2012 “it was time for a re-think”.
She said she was not pushed into standing down.
Cllr Wood added: “I will have had almost 40 years unbroken on the council, never defeated in an election.”
She said she would remain as a councillor until next May, adding: “I am the elected member for the next nine months and I do not want to be distracted from that work.”