By Mark Wallace
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After 40 years representing Berwick-upon-Tweed in Parliament, the Lib Dems' Sir Alan Beith has announced he will be stepping down at the 2015 General Election.
His retirement, whilst long suspected, had not been confirmed until now. It is certainly good news for Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was reselected earlier in the year to fight the seat for a second time.
Sir Alan has a significant personal vote who support him rather than his party. The Lib Dems may well struggle to persuade that chunk of the electorate to back their new candidate.
In 2010, Anne-Marie reduced Beith's majority from 23.9 per cent to 7 per cent. Without his personal following turning out to vote Lib Dem in 2015, she could well take the seat.
She is certainly an experienced and energetic campaigner – this is a great chance for her to convert all that hard work into victory. Her response to the news of his retirement struck the right balance between paying tribute and looking to the future:
"Sir Alan has been a loyal servant and honorable politician for the people of North Northumberland for over four decades and we are grateful to him for his dedicated public service. The election in 2015 will be about getting a better deal for Northumberland and that means we need a strong, energetic voice in Westminster to make things happen."