South Norfolk Conservative MP Richard Bacon has announced he will stand down at the next election.

Mr Bacon had been facing a fight for his political future for a number of weeks after members of the local Conservative Association told him they did not want him to attempt to retain the seat he has held since 2001.

And Mr Bacon revealed, on community radio station Park Radio that he would not be standing at the next general election.

He said: "It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of South Norfolk as their MP for more than two decades.

"I have been able to help many local people and I'm very grateful to the thousands of local residents who have voted for me at the last six general elections.

"I have loved every minute of it, but I think it's time to give someone else a chance.

"I have been thinking deeply about this since before Christmas.

"While it's no secret that some local Conservative members did not want me to stand again, I have been heartened by the many messages from others who urged me to keep going.

"However, I have concluded that it's time for a fresh face.

"There are still many things I would like to do in life which are not possible while serving as an MP. I wish my successor well."

Eastern Daily Press: Richard BaconRichard Bacon (Image: UK Parliament)

Concerns over Mr Bacon's "visibility" were understood to have triggered members of the South Norfolk Conservative Association to take action.

At a selection committee meeting in March he was told that members did not want him to stand again.

READ MORE: Richard Bacon warns Tories will be hurt by NHS dentist woes

Last year, Mr Bacon responded to criticism from voters that he had gone "missing" from his constituency duties, insisting he was "doing his best to make himself available".

Posters were placed around his South Norfolk constituency, accusing him of adopting a low local profile and declaring him "missing". The posters asked: "Has anybody seen Richard lately?"

Mr Bacon said at that time: "I have to point out we have gone through a pandemic, it has not been easy to be around, it has not been easy to do constituency surgeries and most places I would normally visit, like schools, have either been closed or under huge restrictions."

Mr Bacon, who has won six elections, is a former chair of the government's Public Accounts Committee.

He has recently been campaigning over National Grid's East Anglia Green plans, which would see pylons built across parts of South Norfolk and this week led a Parliamentary debate on dentistry in the East of England.