David Mellen says selection of new Nottingham City Council leader not 'ideal'

The new leader of Nottingham City Council Neghat Khan pictured at Nottingham Castle, wearing a red and black patterned top
The new leader of Nottingham City Council Neghat Khan pictured at Nottingham Castle -Credit:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post

David Mellen says the way his successor as Nottingham City Council leader has been chosen is not "ideal". Labour recently confirmed that Neghat Khan, a former Robin Hood Energy director, would become the new city leader from May 20.

Councillor Khan's appointment came after Labour's national governing body interviewed the six hopefuls. This approach significantly differs from the normal situation in which the Nottingham Labour group meets every year to decide who should lead the local party, and therefore the city council.

Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) was originally set to still give local councillors the final say, presenting them with a shortlist of approved candidates to pick from. In the end, Councillor Khan was appointed without any say from members.

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Speaking about the process as he prepares to leave office after five years, David Mellen said: "Well, that decision has been made. Now I think people are getting behind Neghat Khan and Ethan Radford, the new leader and deputy leader. I don't believe that the way they were selected was ideal, and neither do they.

"The decision has been made and now there are many, many things to occupy them and I will be supporting them from a distance on the work that they've got to do. It's a terrific privilege and honour to be in the leadership of this great city. That's something that I've enjoyed for the last five years and I'm wishing them well as they take that mantle on."

Councillor Mellen will be continuing as a Labour councillor for the Dales ward at least until the next local elections in 2027. Anger from Labour members at the NEC's level of intervention initially sparked a claim that as many as 28 councillors could leave the party, which would see Labour lose control of Nottingham for the first time since the 1980s.

Councillor Mellen poured cold water on such an idea, adding: "I think the party are very keen to support them and to fight locally and nationally for a change of government. That's going to be the biggest thing that makes a difference to Nottingham.

"Getting a government who support this city, getting a government who resource this city, getting a government who cares about the inequality in our city and the rise in things like child poverty. That's what we all need to be working for."

Councillor Khan previously said in a statement after her appointment: "I am delighted to be taking up the roles of leader of Nottingham Labour and Nottingham City Council. We know there are challenges ahead and I look forward to working with colleagues to make positive changes for our city.

"We have had 14 years of Conservative cuts to our funding. We will work hard to mitigate the impact of those cuts by championing our communities and delivering for Nottingham people."