MARK Garnier has paid tribute to his predecessor Dr Richard Taylor, after he announced he would not be contesting the Wyre Forest parliamentary seat in the forthcoming election.

Former MP Dr Richard Taylor and Health Concern party chairman Linda Candlin announced last week in the Shuttle that they would not be contesting the seat, choosing to focus on local issues instead.

Conservative Mark Garnier will be looking to win the Wyre Forest seat for the third time - after he was voted in for a second term in 2015 with a majority of almost 13,000.

Mr Garnier said: "This election will be my fourth here in Wyre Forest, but it will be unique to me for an important reason.

"This time I will be standing in a field of candidates that does not, for the first time since 1997, include Dr Richard Taylor standing for his local Health Concern party.

"This is the passing of an era here in Wyre Forest.

"Richard, famously, stood in 2001 against the proposed cuts to Kidderminster's hospital that would see the hospital downgraded from a district general to a treatment centre, closing the A&E department and replacing it with a minor injuries unit.

"The public outcry at the time was reflected in the stunning result that saw Richard elected as our MP.

"The shock of the election night was not just that an independent had been elected, but that he had been elected with such a majority.

"When he arrived in Parliament, he made a name for himself on the Health Select Committee, supported by Conservatives giving up one of our committee seats to allow him a strong voice on this influential platform.

"But, it is his impact on politics that I hope he will be remembered for. He served not one, but two terms as our MP and he has single handedly shown us all that local issues are everything, that to ignore local is to do so at political parties' peril. And he showed that no outcome is a foregone conclusion."

Mr Garnier added: "His is a legacy of decency and example by action.

"And when it came to the elections, his presence on the stump made for a clean, decent fight on issues, not personalities.

"He is a man for whom I have great respect and I shall miss his presence in active Wyre Forest politics."

Mark Garnier will go up against Labour's Dr Matt Lamb, UKIP's George Connolly and Liberal Democrat's Shazu Miah in the snap General Election on June 8. The Green Party has not yet announced their candidate.