A long-serving and highly respected politician has stepped down from his party due to ill health.

Mike Jackson has announced he will no longer continue in his role as Watford Labour chairman after 23 years at the helm.

Mr Jackson has been involved in the Labour party in the town for nearly five decades.

But after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, the former leader of Watford Borough Council has now decided it is time for someone else to anchor the party.

He said: "It’s been a great privilege to serve my party and the community over a lifetime in the town I love."

During his political career, Mr Jackson has served as leader of Watford Borough Council, represented Woodside as a ward councillor for 16 years, stood to become MP for Watford in 1987 and 1992, and was national chairman of Labour students in the 1970s.

He has also acted as election agent in Watford in 13 general elections and countless local elections.

Mr Jackson has also held many positions within the Watford community including board member of Watford Palace Theatre for 22 years, helped found Watford Peace Hospice, was vice chairman of Watford Community Relations Council, been secretary of Watford Anti-Racist Committee, been a member of South West Herts Health Authority, and been a school governor.

Nigel Bell, leader of Watford’s Labour group, said: "Mike has made an enormous contribution to Watford Labour party over many decades.

"While no person should ever be seen as more important than the party, in Watford there is no question Mike's contribution has been vital in keeping the party relevant and electorally credible.

"His hard work and experience mean he has become the most respected Labour figure in the town not only within the party but outside in the community as well."

While Chris Ostrowski, who stood as Labour parliamentary candidate in Watford in 2017 and 2019, added: "Mike has been the best election agent any candidate could wish for. He has served Watford and the Labour Party with dignity his whole life."

The Watford Labour party will elect a new chairman on January 16.