IRVINE’S Labour MSP Margaret McDougall has announced she is stepping down at next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

Mrs McDougall was elected MSP for the West Region in 2011 after serving as a councillor in Kilwinning since 1999.

She served as councillor for Blacklands and Pennyburn and latterly for the entire town following the introduction of multi-member wards in 2007.

Mrs McDougall’s announcement comes two months after SNP rival Margaret Burgess announced she too would be standing down from her Cunninghame South seat.

In a statement, she insisted that Kilwinning saw a great deal of investment in her time as a councillor including the opening of James Watt College, Kilwinning Sports Club and the regeneration of Main Street.

The Labour politician highlighted a number of community issues which she has backed including supporting Kilwinning woman Jackie Watt’s campaign to introduce routine testing for Strep B and most recently, her opposition to North Ayrshire Council’s plans for a new leisure centre in Irvine’s Quarry Road.

But while she is not seeking re-election, Mrs McDougall will still be on the campaign trail supporting current Kilwinning councillor Joe Cullinane’s bid to be elected as Labour’s MSP for Cunninghame South.

Speaking after her announcement, she said: “It has been an honour to have represented people in this local community for over 16 years.

“During that time I have seen many positive changes in the area and I feel it is the right time for me to take a step back and pass on the baton.

“Scottish Labour faces a period of renewal following May’s General Election result and I feel our future electoral prospects are best served by a new generation of Labour politicians.

“Whilst I will remain an MSP until next May’s election and will continue to represent my constituents to the best of my abilities, I will be doing all I can to help elect Joe Cullinane as the next MSP for Cunninghame South.

“Joe replaced me as a councillor in Kilwinning and his campaigning since then has shown that he would make an excellent MSP for this area.”