Labour party bosses threatened to strip me of title, says ex-Lord Mayor Colin Hall
Former Lord Mayor Colin Hall says Labour party bosses threatened to strip him of his historic role if he did not help push through the position of elected mayor.
He spoke out as thousands of people went to the polls yesterday to decide who should be the city's first elected mayor and lead the council for the next four years.
The way the position came about was controversial – there was no referendum, as some other areas had done, and the opposition parties on the council said it was a bad idea.
Mr Hall, who was Lord Mayor of Leicester until last month, has lifted the lid on how he believes the position was created.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
He said former city MP Sir Peter Soulsby, who is running for mayor, former city council leader Ross Willmott and Leicester East MP Keith Vaz all wanted an elected mayor.
He added: "Both Peter and Ross were confident they would win it, and Keith has been keen on the issue for some time. There was talk of him standing at one point.
"The decision on whether to have an elected mayor was timed to take place at the same time as Labour councillors were standing for re-selection in their own wards.
"Many of them didn't want to show dissent because they were afraid they would lose the seats they'd represented for years. Much of the pressure was subtle, but some of it was more obvious.
He added: "As Lord Mayor I was keen to make sure that we had public meetings on the subject but I was told quite clearly that the party would withdraw the whip and remove me from the party if insisted. "There were also suggestions made that a vote could be held to strip me of my position as Lord Mayor."
Mr Hall, speaking while on a holiday after choosing not to help his party campaign in the city, said he believed had there been a referendum it would have been lost.
He said: "The constituents I've spoken to weren't desperate for an elected mayor.
"Their concerns are about crime, jobs, healthcare and regeneration."
He claimed the ruling Labour group of 2011 is now split.
In November Mr Hall was deselected by the Labour Party as their candidate for his New Parks council ward.
At the time, fellow politicians blamed his impending exit on factors including his refusal to support Labour over the issue of an elected mayor.
Mr Willmott said: "I have always supported Coun Hall in his position as Lord Mayor, even when others were being critical of him."
The Leicester Mercury also contacted Sir Peter and Mr Vaz yesterday – but did not receive a comment back from them.