Labour leader under fire after deciding not to stand for council leadership

City council Labour leader Cllr Mohammed Jamil.
City council Labour leader Cllr Mohammed Jamil.
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A call for a vote of no confidence against the newly elected leader of the Labour group in Peterborough City Council has been made by one of the party’s own councillors.

Councillor Jo Johnson said the vote could be held against Cllr Mohammed Jamil - who was appointed as group leader a week ago - due to him not standing to be leader of the council.

Instead, Conservative Cllr John Holdich was unopposed when nominated for the position.

The decision by Cllr Jamil not to stand prompted Cllr Johnson to walk out of the full council meeting at the Town Hall this evening (Wednesday, May 20).

Cllr Johnson was joined by the Labour and Cooperative Councillor Ed Murphy who himself had been preparing to stand against Cllr Holdich.

Both later re-joined the meeting.

Cllr Jamil said he had agreed to put himself forward as council leader at a Labour group meeting the night before, but changed his mind after discovering he did not have the support he had previously been told he had.

Speaking once the meeting had finished, Cllr Johnson said: “We agreed at a Labour group meeting to oppose Cllr Holdich’s leadership with Cllr Jamil to stand, but he did not do so.

“There will be a vote of no confidence in the group, and if they do no get it I will walk from the party.

“About half of the group did not agree with Cllr Jamil’s decision.”

Speaking earlier, Cllr Jamil said: “I was going to stand. I was expecting all of the opposition’s support but there were people who changed their mind.”

He added: “I’m conciliatory. I want this council to work for everyone in Peterborough.

“If I went up against [Cllr Holdich] it would send out the wrong signal.

“He’s different to [previous council leader] Marco Cereste and I hope he will keep to his word and get the best deal for Peterborough.

“I will be scrutinising everything they do. I’m holding them to account.”

Cllr Murphy said: “I’m concerned that the Labour group whip was on and he did not put up.”

The Conservatives hold 26 of the 57 seats in the council, with one seat left vacant.

Cllr Jamil’s decision not to stand as leader was praised by Cllr Holdich.

He said: “The situation has been changing daily over the last week. I’d be opposed, then unopposed.

“If people are really serious about running this council in an all-party way, a leader should be elected unanimously.

“I’m proud of Cllr Jamil for recognising that and backing out. That takes courage and shows a willingness to work together and that’s what the council wants.”