Finchley and Golders Green MP, Rudi Vis, has announced that he will be standing down at the next general election.

The Labour MP said his personal circumstances made it increasingly difficult to be available for constituents.

Born in Holland in 1941, Dr Vis came to England to study at the London Schools of Economics in 1970, before taking up a post as an economics lecturer.

In 1997, after serving as a ward councillor in Woodhouse and then East Finchley for 11 years, he was elected as MP for Finchley and Golders Green and retained the seat in the two general elections that followed despite a slump in his majority.

During his time in office, he has also regularly participated in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and the Western European Union in Paris.

He said: "It has been an enormous honour to have served as an MP since 1997 and before that as a councillor from 1986 to 1998. Finchley and Golders Green is one of London's most vibrant and varied suburbs.

"It has, for example, the highest number of residents of the Jewish faith in the country, as well as large numbers of people of Asian origin and a substantial Cypriot community."

Councillor Alison Moore, leader of Barnet's Labour group, praised Dr Vis' efforts over the years.

She said: "He has worked hard fighting alongside residents and Labour councillors to save post offices from closure, get more investment in youth provision and improvements to local problems like Henlys Corner.

"He has been an exemplary public servant in Barnet politics for the last 20 years and we wish him well in whatever he chooses to do after the next general election."

The Conservatives view the seat as their number one target at the next general election, following a Labour majority of a mere 741 in the 2005 elections and subsequent boundary changes.

Mike Freer, Barnet Council leader and Conservative candidate for the Finchley and Golders Green constituency, said: "It is not really a surprise. Rudi has served the local area for quite some time and probably decided he wants to spend some more time with his family, which I understand.

"I've known him for a long time and I hope he has a long and healthy retirement.

"It only requires a 0.2 per cent swing for the Conservatives to take this seat so I'm not sure there's much that Rudi could have done given the opinion polls, but any incumbent MP has a following so it might make things a little easier.

"But, I also have my own reputation as an active councillor who gets things done."

A decision on who will stand as the Labour candidate in the next general election for Finchley and Golders Green will be taken over the coming months.