Connect with us

News

‘Corbynista, tribal Labour’ leader takes the helm at Peterborough City Council

Peterborough First praised for their ‘short but remarkable term in administration’

Avatar photo

Published

on

A councillor who once described himself as a “Corbynista, tribal Labour, from Manchester” was last night elected leader of Peterborough City Council. Cllr Dennis Jones was the only councillor nominated for the post after Labour became the largest party on the city council following the May 2 elections.

The vote was remarkable in that only 20 councillors voted for him as leader, with 13 voting against and 25 councillors opting to abstain.

Cllr Mohammed Farooq of Peterborough First had resigned earlier in the day, recognising the changes in the political landscape and tense weeks of negotiations had made it unlikely he would survive.

Advertisements
Pictures

Even Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, the former Tory council leader who was ousted by Cllr Farooq last November, approved the legitimacy of the largest political group on the council taking control.

Peterborough City Council, Monday May 20, where Labour took control PHOTO: Terry Harris

Cllr Fitzgerald’s continued dislike of the Peterborough First group – some of whom are of course former Conservative councillors – was evident.

“I would ask Peterborough First what was last 6 months about,” he said. “Because it was unnecessary.”

Responding to a short speech from Cllr Farooq about his group’s work since taking over in November, Cllr Fitzgerald said: “I am sorry Cllr Farooq we do not recognize those achievements.

“I don’t wish to sound mean but they were Conservative initiatives you were carrying on.”

But even Cllr Fitzgerald softened his stance from earlier cross chamber spats, pointing out that in the spirit of cooperation going forward he was following his wife’s advice “who tells I should be nicer in the forthcoming year”. At the same meeting he was elected to be deputy mayor alongside newly installed mayor, Cllr Marco Cereste.

And referencing Labour taking over, Cllr Fitzgerald agreed that it was only right the largest party should be given an opportunity to run the city.

He promised a collaborative approach and he had spoken already to Cllr Jones and other group leaders “and as far as we are concerned the clock is reset from this meeting: relationships are on a normal friendly basis and let’s hope we can go forward on that basis”.

Cllr Farooq spoke of his group’s work since taking over last November and mentioned in particular inheriting an asset disposal list “which put all of our community centres at risk.

“I am passionate about community groups who are the heart and soul of community; they protect the vulnerable, eliminate isolation, and give communities an identity.

“We pledged no community group would be made homeless and in fact where possible we would modernize buildings they work in”.

He claimed the new administration would face “some very tough and embarrassing decisions on legacy issues; any incoming administration will need heavy and broad shoulders to carry that legacy burden which affects decision making in this council”.

He added: “My administration has clearly demonstrated to every individual, organisation, and investor that Peterborough is a city of opportunities and is open for all.

“I would like members tonight to choose a leader who commands a majority of 31 or more.

“This is critical for the stability of this council and the challenges it faces, a stable council administration. “Peterborough First will continue to work hard and support policies which deliver value to our residents and will hold the new administration to account.”

The council did not, of course, appoint a new leader with that majority, although it was Lib Dem leader Christian Hogg who proposed Cllr Jones as leader.

“I think residents would expect the largest party to take leadership of the council,” he said.

 

He praised Peterborough First for their “short but remarkable term in administration”.

Cllr Jones, in his acceptance speech, explained that when he first stood in 2018 it was “because I wanted to make a difference, I am sure we all did. I have always tried to give something back, create better opportunities for all, I wanted to help this city and still do to realise its potential to punch its weight.

“I probably have more fire in my belly than when I first joined.”

He said: “If we all get it right, we will deliver more affordable homes, more and better paid jobs, more chances for people to upskill and will give Peterborough a place on the map and reputation it truly deserves.

Cllr Dennis Jones, leader of Peterborough City Council. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Cllr Dennis Jones, leader of Peterborough City Council. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“The electors made their choice – yes I am proud to lead this group and with support of my fellow councillors around the chamber from across the political spectrum I am delighted to lead our council with a Labour administration.”

Cllr Jones wants Peterborough “to become a city of cooperation. We can only achieve what we aspire to by setting out our corporate strategy to make the city the best it can be.

Cooperation, he said, will underpin everything his party sets out to achieve including making Peterborough “a child friendly city.

“Every child deserves to grow up in an environment where they feel safe and secure and have access to services they need. And where their voice is heard.

“My cabinet will closely with children’s service to offer children and families the best possible service.

Advertisements
canopyuk.com in-article

“Tonight, we are rubber stamping an enhanced offer of support for our care leavers, for them to feel valued and supported and to be properly prepared for adulthood and independent living.

“We must ask would this be good enough for my child. “This is a start, we must do more, and we will do more to support children and families”.

He also pledged to focus on the city centre, making it welcome and enticing, and Labour hopes to encourage more families into the city centre, to introduce “a true café culture and make it a place where it is welcoming”.

Putting some flesh on those hopes and aspirations will be for another occasion, but Cllr Jones has, previously, given an indication of his goals and ambitions.

Two years ago, he gave an interview to Peterborough Matters website in which he outlined some of his thinking.

“People say ‘Why is the Labour group against the football club?’ It’s not,” he explained. “What we want to do is evaluate the options. We’ve seen the city plan, and it looks good, but let’s not rush in where angels fear to tread.

Peterborough City Council, Monday May 20, where Labour took control PHOTO: Terry Harris

Peterborough City Council, Monday May 20, where Labour took control PHOTO: Terry Harris

“Let’s be consultative, using experienced councillors, rather than making hard and fast decisions.

“We have to be sensitive, once it’s gone it’s gone. Most great cities have river frontages, and we have to say that if we ‘pave paradise and put up a parking lot’, it’s not going to come back.

“Let’s be honest and say that if I was in Darragh’s shoes, I would want the real estate – he’s a businessman.

“So, there is always a dichotomy there between what somebody wants, which we get, and the greater good.

“I would like to think councillors and the Labour group as a whole is aiming for that.”

He also told reporter John Baker in the interview about what he regards as frustrations over such thing as infrastructure and travel.

“We’re on the Stansted corridor, less than an hour from London, 50 minutes from Cambridge by road – but not punching our weight,” he said.

And he had explained to Labour Mayor Dr Nik Johnson “that we talk about active travel, but you can’t get a train to Stansted after 8pm or before about 6am – how do you get people out of their cars?”

Cllr Jones told Peterborough Matters: “I’m a Corbynista, tribal Labour, from Manchester. Will Keir Starmer make us more electable? Rhetorical question.

“I’m a trade unionist – we all are if we’re Labour councillors. I voted for Blair, Kinnock, Foot, as a tribal Labour man, but the media were never going to cut Corbyn any slack.

“So, I wish Starmer well as the new kid on the block, and we have as a party in the city get fully behind him. “Whether we’re more electable – the jury is out.”

Ending a long period of Conservative rule in the city, and a brief period of Peterborough First in the driving seat, Cllr Jones is clearly delighted Labour finally has its chance to make a difference.

Whether he will get the co-operation from others, which he will need at least in part since his party can be out voted quite easily if they get something wrong, remains to be seen.

His most recent thoughts on politicians, in a blog post a few days ago, may offer some clues as to the challenge he faces if he wants a more collaborative approach.

“I grew up in an era where politicians were expected to act like grown-ups, certainly in public,” he wrote.

“There was no social media in those days, of course, so it was perhaps harder for politicians to make utter fools of themselves so easily.

“We saw the modern-day equivalent of the Muppets played out by our political rivals at the last election.

“Instead of promoting what they will do if they accede power, they chose to throw stones at those who already had it.

“Nothing remotely positive, uplifting or life affirming was contained in their campaigns.

“Whether it was a leaflet or banner or a clip-on social media, your eyes and ears were probably assaulted by negativity as campaigns were conducted in such a manner.”

 FOOTNOTE: The link below comprises an A-Z of the city council, including party leaders and Cabinet post holders.

https://democracy.peterborough.gov.uk/documents/s52591/Additional%20Information%20Pack%20Annual%20Council%2020%20May%202024.pdf

Link below is the full interview given by Cllr Jones and his wife to Peterborough Matters 2 years ago

https://www.peterboroughmatters.co.uk/news/21801674.meet-joneses-elections-labours-parliamentary-candidates-city-thinking-bigger-/

 

Facebook

Read More

Hustings chair Amir Suleman was described in pre hustings publicity as “accomplished presenter and host since 2008. He is a freelance presenter with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and also a volunteer radio presenter with Salaam Radio in Peterborough since 2016”. Hustings chair Amir Suleman was described in pre hustings publicity as “accomplished presenter and host since 2008. He is a freelance presenter with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and also a volunteer radio presenter with Salaam Radio in Peterborough since 2016”.
News24 hours ago

Media banned from Peterborough hustings event chaired by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter

Advance publicity stated it was a 'public' meeting

Flashback to beginning of May when Mr Browne reported that over 570 people had shared concerns and comments about Longsands and Ernulf over the previous month. He is pictured with schools minister Damian Hinds discussing the concerns. Flashback to beginning of May when Mr Browne reported that over 570 people had shared concerns and comments about Longsands and Ernulf over the previous month. He is pictured with schools minister Damian Hinds discussing the concerns.
News1 day ago

OPINION: There is clearly something deeply dysfunctional going on to drive teachers to leave in such high numbers

'The head at Ernulf has resigned -27 teachers to leave Longsands'

Matt Howard (left) head of insolvency and recovery at Price Bailey and (right) Stuart Morton, a Price Bailey partner and insolvency practitioner. Centre is Simon Somerville-Large, founder and sole director of Laragh House Developments Ltd. Matt Howard (left) head of insolvency and recovery at Price Bailey and (right) Stuart Morton, a Price Bailey partner and insolvency practitioner. Centre is Simon Somerville-Large, founder and sole director of Laragh House Developments Ltd.
News1 day ago

Joint insolvency practitioners appointed to Laragh House Developments Ltd

A CVL is an insolvent liquidation process initiated by shareholders or directors

Ely taxi driver Jerzy Masjanis has had his joint hackney carriage and private hire driver licence revoked Ely taxi driver Jerzy Masjanis has had his joint hackney carriage and private hire driver licence revoked
News2 days ago

Rude taxi driver who also nearly ran over woman and her dog has licence revoked

Ely taxi driver 'demonstrated a history of non-compliance'

Swimmers take to the pool at 4am for a sunrise swim on the Summer Solstice. City lido, Peterborough Thursday 20 June 2024. Picture by Terry Harris. Swimmers take to the pool at 4am for a sunrise swim on the Summer Solstice. City lido, Peterborough Thursday 20 June 2024. Picture by Terry Harris.
News3 days ago

WATCH: ‘Hooray an’ up she rises, early in the morning’ for summer solstice Peterborough swim

Lido promises 'a truly magical experience'

A 53-year-old motorcyclist from Peterborough died in a crash at Papworth Everard A 53-year-old motorcyclist from Peterborough died in a crash at Papworth Everard
News3 days ago

Peterborough death crash victim Paul Istead ‘a special kinda guy’ says best friend

'RIP my friend. We miss you already and so much'

Line Diagram of Wisbech Branch (Quail Map Company, 1998) Line Diagram of Wisbech Branch (Quail Map Company, 1998)
News3 days ago

OPINION: Let’s build a new station at Wisbech and then dare the railway not to come

A station without any trains — how utterly stupid! But is it?

Akshata Murty took along Lucia Hunt, wife of the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and Susie Cleverly, wife of the Home Secretary, James Cleverly to support Lucy Frazer Akshata Murty took along Lucia Hunt, wife of the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and Susie Cleverly, wife of the Home Secretary, James Cleverly to support Lucy Frazer
News4 days ago

GALLERY: ‘Westminster Wives’ including Mrs Sunak fight to save Lucy Frazer

A formidable trio of political wives turned out to support Lucy Frazer.

Once inside, police found various rooms at this Bretton, Peterborough, home had been converted to grow cannabis and seized 134 plants worth up to about £112,560 Once inside, police found various rooms at this Bretton, Peterborough, home had been converted to grow cannabis and seized 134 plants worth up to about £112,560
News4 days ago

WATCH: Bretton, Peterborough, cannabis factory grower caught and jailed

Police seized 134 plants worth up to about £112,560

Kate McIntosh, Local Organiser, Cambridge City Foodbank Kate McIntosh, Local Organiser, Cambridge City Foodbank
News4 days ago

OPINION: General Election 2024 – together, we can end the need for foodbanks

Cambridge City Foodbank’s Hustings 26th June at 7pm