Peterborough Labour councillors ‘suspended by party’

Two Labour councillors in Peterborough are no longer with the party after reportedly being suspended while disciplinary proceedings are carried out.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 8:55 am
Updated Thursday, 8th April 2021, 5:36 pm

Cllrs Ed Murphy (Ravensthorpe) and Heather Skibsted (Orton Longueville) are now registered as independents on Peterborough City Council’s website.

Labour leader on the council Cllr Shaz Nawaz has been contacted for further information and has referred the Peterborough Telegraph to the party’s eastern branch media team which declined to comment on “individual cases”.

However, it is understood by the Peterborough Telegraph that both councillors have been administratively suspended from the Labour Party, pending investigation, although there is no further information at this time.

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Cllrs Heather Skibsted and Ed Murphy. Photo taken before the coronavirus pandemic
Cllrs Heather Skibsted and Ed Murphy. Photo taken before the coronavirus pandemic

Cllr Skibsted told the PT: “The suspension referred to today in the Peterborough Telegraph is an internal Labour Party matter about which I am unable to provide any further information.

“I will continue to actively serve and support the residents of Orton Longueville ward with any issues that may affect them, as I have the past two years since I was elected in 2019, currently as an independent councillor.”

Cllr Murphy said: “This is a storm in a tea cup which I hope will be resolved shortly. In the meantime I will continue to serve the residents of Ravensthorpe who have elected me six times.”

He added that it if he stood down from his seat to trigger a by-election it could not be held at the same time as the local elections as it was too late.

The councillors’ departures from the Labour group leaves the party with 15 seats out of 60 in the Council Chamber, with 23 to be contested at the local elections on May 6.

Labour have spoken optimistically about ending the Conservatives’ 20 years in office which would require a strong performance in four weeks’ time.

Currently, the Tories hold power thanks to the support of the three Werrington First councillors. However, it would require a net loss of just one seat for the opposition groups to have enough seats to form a coalition administration if all were in agreement.

Neither Cllr Murphy nor Cllr Skibsted are due for re-election this year. However, Conservative MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow has called for both to allow their seats to be contested.

He posted on his Facebook page: “Two Labour councillors out of the #Peterborough Labour Group. Just before the election. As they are no longer Labour councillors (but were elected as Labour), perhaps voters should get a say on 6 May?

“Peterborough Labour are falling apart. They aren’t fit to run our City.”

Cllr Murphy has had a long association with the Labour Party, standing unsuccessfully in the 2010 General Election in Peterborough.

He was also selected to stand in December 2019 for the party in North West Cambridgeshire but was deselected despite handing in his nomination forms over claims he had deleted a tweet from July 2014 where he alleged that the Israeli armed forces were backed by the Conservatives on the city council.

Cllr Murphy has also previously been Labour’s group leader on the council for a year and was the party’s candidate to be the elected police and crime commissioner in 2012, coming second.

Cllr Skibsted was elected onto the council in 2019.

Peterborough City Council has been contacted for comment.