A LONG-serving Southampton MP has announced he will stand down.

MP for Southampton Itchen, Royston Smith, will step down from his position at the next General Election.

With a political career spanning nearly 25 years, the former leader of Southampton City Council has been an MP for a total of nine years.

He said: "Nothing stays the same for very long and I feel it is time to pass the baton to a new generation.”

Mr Smith won election as an MP in 2015, having missed out by 192 votes on his first try in 2010.

He went on to win three general elections using his 'Made in Southampton' branding.

In one of those battles he won Southampton Itchen in 2017 by 31 votes - beating Labour's Simon Letts in one of the closest-run elections in the constituency.

The MP has long called for Government to boost the city, has promoted reading for children, and has campaigned to protect leaseholders from paying to fix fire safety problems.

He also won £3m funding to go toward creating a lasting tribute to the Spitfire made in Southampton.

Mr Smith served for 10 years in the Royal Air Force and 16 years at British Airways.

He has now decided that a life of travel and spending weeks away from home is taking its toll.

The MP added: “It’s time to spend more time with my family and friends."

Mr Smith was first elected to represent the Harefield ward at the city council in 2000, covering the estate where he was born.

He went on to be elected five times to the council, later assuming the leadership position in 2010 after serving as the deputy leader.

Mr Smith served for 16 years as a member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority and was chairman for six.

David Fuller, chairman of the Southampton Itchen Conservative Association, said: “His passion for local issues, relentless pursuit of justice, and unwavering commitment to his constituents have made an enduring impact on Southampton, leaving a legacy that will be difficult to match and remembered for years to come.”