Suspended Peterborough Labour councillor insists investigation is ‘storm in a tea cup’

A Labour councillor in Peterborough who has been suspended by the party insists the matter is a “storm in a tea cup”.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 7:02 am

Cllr Ed Murphy, representative for Ravensthorpe on Peterborough City Council, has had the party whip removed while an investigation into an alleged disciplinary matter is concluded.

Cllr Heather Skibsted, member for Orton Longueville, has also been suspended. Both are currently listed as independents on the council’s website.

Labour has declined to comment on the matter and no further details have been released.

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Cllr Ed Murphy

Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, 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.”

In reference to calls from MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow for him to stand down to trigger a by-election, Cllr Murphy said any contest for his seat could not be held at the same time as the local elections on May 6 as it is too late.

Cllr Skibsted told the PT: “The suspension referred to 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.”

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.

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, Mr 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.