Two Labour councillors announce they will stand down at 2023 election

Louise Jackson (left) and Kay Burley will be stepping down at the next election

Two Labour councillors, with a combined tally of 61 years of service, have announced they will stand down at the next local election.

Harpur Ward Councillor Louise Jackson and Kempston Central and East Councillor Kay Burley have both decided not to seek election in May 2023.

Zara Layne will stand alongside Cllr Colleen Atkins in Harpur Ward and Caroline White has been selected to run alongside Councillor Mohammed Nawaz in Kempston Central & East.

Caroline White (left) and Zara Layne

Cllr Louise Jackson

Harpur Ward Councillor Louise Jackson, presently the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, has served on the council for 11 years.

Her role saw her take on the challenge of forming the Borough’s Covid-19 response, helping to provide assistance to vulnerable residents, working to implement vaccination programmes and leading on health communications and engagement.

Louise chairs the council’s Health & Wellbeing Board, represents Bedford Borough on the Integrated Care Partnership, and has helped many Harpur and Bedford Borough residents over the years. Louise has worked to develop the council’s support offer for vulnerable residents to tackle the cost of living crisis and stay warm and well this winter, and co-chairs the Community Health Champions network.

Cllr Jackson said: “It has been a privilege to serve as a Councillor for over a decade. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a particularly challenging time.

“I am proud of the work Councillor Atkins and I have achieved together in Harpur, and of the work I have undertaken to fight for better health services for Bedford Borough.”

As a policy manager for Age UK, Louise says now is the time for her to stand aside from public service to focus on her day job and family.

Cllr Kay Burley

Over the last 50 years, Councillor Kay Burley has served on local authorities in Bedfordshire.

Initially elected to Kempston Urban District Council, Kay moved to Bedford Borough Council in the 1970s. She then spent 25 years on Bedfordshire County Council becoming the Chair in 1994/95. After the abolition of the County Council, Kay re-joined Bedford Borough Council and is currently the chair of the Environment & Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny committee and a member of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Kay is also a member of the Kempston Town Council and is a past Mayor of Kempston. She is currently the Council Leader, a post she has held for several years.

Cllr Burley said: “Having lived in Kempston for over 50 years, I’ve seen many changes (mostly for the better) [and] it has been a privilege to serve at all tiers of local government.

“I am proud to have represented a diversity of Kempston residents with different views and opinions and I’ve made many good friends from Kempston’s vibrant and welcoming community.

“I am grateful to and thank the electorate of Kempston for the opportunity and enjoyment of my experiences but feel that now is the time to ‘retire gracefully’ and to ‘move over’ and allow my successor the same chances.”

Leader of Bedford Borough Labour Group Councillor Sue Oliver said:  “The Labour Group and the whole Borough Council will miss the experience and wisdom Louise and Kay brought to their roles within the Council. Residents have been well represented by both, and we will miss working with them.”