TWO long serving councillors are stepping down after taking an active role in local politics for almost half a century between them.

Cllr Barbara Ronson, aged 68, has handed in her resignation and will step down immediately, while husband Cllr Bob Ronson, aged 75, will finish his term of office on May 5 and is not seeking re-election.

Cllr Barbara Ronson was first elected in 1986, and was the first woman leader of Bolton Council and, later, the first Liberal Democrat mayor of Bolton, with her husband as her consort.

By resigning now, Cllr Barbara Ronson’s seat can be filled at the local elections in May, avoiding a byelection and ensuring that Horwich North East has a vacancy for the shortest possible time.

She said: “Bob has been working since he was 15 and I have worked since I was 17 – that makes 112 years between us. We have enjoyed being councillors, but it has not given us much time for ourselves and each other. We hope to continue with many of our community activities, but keeping up with the work involved in being on two councils is getting harder.

“Weeks go by without a full day off together, even at the weekend. When we do go out, we are invariably approached about casework or other issues. This did not bother us years ago, but now we sit and ask ourselves why we do it.

“I would like to thank the officers at Bolton and Horwich and council members of all parties, but most of all the people of Horwich, who have made us welcome and given us support”.

Cllr Barbara Ronson, a former college lecturer, continued with her day job until the mid 1990s. Her husband was an engineer at British Aerospace and joined the council in 1994.

Both will remain on Horwich Town Council until May, but will not be standing as candidates in the forthcoming town council elections.

Cllr Roger Hayes, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “Both have been dedicated to helping the people of Horwich and are very effective councillors.

“Bob served for two years as Executive Member for Social Services and Barbara was the first woman leader of Bolton Council and later the first Lib Dem Mayor of Bolton.