Bedfordshire MEP stands down from European Parliament after 17 years

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Richard Howitt MEP is standing down after representing Bedfordshire in the European Parliament since 1999.

Richard said farewell at a special reception organised by Bedford Labour Party yesterday (October 23).

The Labour European MP said his thanks goes not just to the councillors and party activists, but to many local organisations and individuals in his constituency.

He said: “Bedford has given me some of my most memorable moments including bringing the Hungarian European Commissioner to Bedford for the national campaign I was proud to lead, to get European funding to support Britain’s foodbanks and hosting an EU event in the town.

“I have been proud to back successful European funding bids for some brilliant local projects, including for Bedford YMCA to help young people who dropped out of education and the Bedford Family Groups helping single mums to succeed.

“I have joined those asking hard questions about the Yarl’s Wood detention centre, working with former detainees there.

“But I have been proud too, to give my support to the Bedford Refugee and Asylum Support Service and to the town’s EU-funded Polish Integration Centre, showing that many people locally do want to give a warm welcome to those coming from abroad.

“I’ve been pleased to work with the Bedfordshire Wildlife Trust to bring stronger environmental rules in to Europe’s agricultural policy, as well as protecting their right to benefit directly from the funds.

“My future job for which I am leaving parliament, will see me working to help businesses become more environmental and to meet other global challenges.

“It was with personal sadness that I saw the referendum result in Bedford, but we have to respect the outcome and I hope Britain will still be able to negotiate a new relationship with Europe based on close cooperation and partnership.”