A STALWART Redditch councillor and former mayor has decided to stand down.

Councillor Jenny Wheeler, who has represented Greenlands Ward since 2015, has made the decision to stand down a year early, for health reasons.

It means that residents in the ward will have two votes when the town takes to the polls in the Redditch Borough Council elections on Thursday May 5.

During her seven years in the role, Councillor Wheeler has chaired the Budget Scrutiny Working Group, the Performance Scrutiny Group, and, more recently, the Audit Governance and Standards Committee. She is currently vice-chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Redditch Labour has selected its BAME officer, Juma Begum, to be the party’s second prospective candidate for the ward, alongside Joanna Kane.

Councillor Wheeler said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the residents of Greenlands, Woodrow and Wirehill over the past seven years, especially when I became Deputy Mayor in 2016 and then Mayor in 2017, representing the town across Worcestershire and chairing full council meetings.

“I have particularly enjoyed getting to know residents, understanding their difficulties and being able to help solve some of their problems.

“Sadly, my health has worsened and I have had to accept that I can’t continue as a councillor. It’s been a very difficult decision, but I know that Juma and Joanna will speak up for local people and hold the council to account.

“I would like to thank all the officers and colleagues I have worked with, and I wish Redditch Borough Council a successful future in these challenging times.”

Paying tribute, Councillor Andy Fry, leader of the Labour group on Redditch Borough Council, said: “The Labour group are very sorry that Jenny has had to resign due to ill health. We will miss her immense contribution to the group and the council.”