THREE of Blackburn with Darwen’s longest-serving councillors will stand down at next month’s local elections.

Tory Jim Hirst, Labour’s Florence Oldfield, and Liberal Democrat Chris Thayne have clocked up more than 50 years of representing the borough’s residents between them.

Shear Brow’s Shahabuddin Solkar will also leave the council after four years representing Labour.

Coun Hirst, 85, has represented Beardwood with Lammack for 20 years, and is a former Tory group leader and served as mayor in 2009/2010.

Current Conservative leader Mike Lee praised him for his eye for detail and understanding of local government finance at Thursday’s full council forum.

Coun Hirst, who has been ill for some months, told the forum meeting: “I have had a fantastic time as a councillor. I have enjoyed the robust exchanges in this council chamber.”

A fellow former mayor in 1998/1999, Coun Oldfield, who represented Ewood for 25 years, was praised by Borough Labour leader Kate Hollern for helpfulness to new councillors and determination in representing her ward.

Coun Lee said: “She was a real servant of the borough who was able to put aside her politics for the benefit of its residents.”

She said: “I never achieved high political office but I enjoyed every minute of being a councillor. It was a great privilege.”

Coun Thayne represented Marsh House ward for 12 years and, as coalition executive member of education from 2007 to 2010, was responsible for the £230million Building Schools for the Future programme.”

LibDem leader David Foster said: “Coun Thayne has left a legacy with the BSF programme that will help future generations of the borough’s young people.”