'I'll leave it to them' - Keir Starmer tight-lipped on next Nottingham City Council leader

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaking to reporters in Mansfield, with reporter microphones facing the politician, wearing a blue jacket and jumper
Labour leader Keir Starmer speaking to reporters in Mansfield -Credit:Nottingham Post/Oliver Pridmore

Labour leader Keir Starmer said he is "not getting involved" in discussions about who the next Nottingham City Council leader should be. David Mellen will step down later this month after having led the Labour-run authority since 2019, taking over from Jon Collins.

The process to choose who should succeed Councillor Mellen was interrupted by Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC), the national ruling body of the Labour Party that includes figures such as Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner, MPs and union representatives. Rather than Nottingham's Labour councillors getting a totally free choice on their next leader, the NEC is interviewing candidates first and then presenting councillors with a shortlist of those who it deems suitable.

Despite sitting on the NEC, Keir Starmer was tight-lipped about its involvement in Nottingham City Council when asked about it by Nottinghamshire Live. Sir Keir was in Mansfield to celebrate the victory of Claire Ward in the East Midlands Mayor election on Saturday (May 4).

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The Labour leader said: "I'm not getting involved in that selection, that is a matter for the party processes. I'll leave it to them to carry out those processes."

Six people have emerged as contenders to take over the running of Nottingham City Council. It is understood that the six candidates, in alphabetical order by surname, are: Leslie Ayoola, Cheryl Barnard, Steve Battlemuch, Sam Gardiner, Neghat Khan and Sajid Mohammed.

It is said to be unlikely that all six initial contenders will make the final shortlist that Nottingham Labour councillors can choose from at their group meeting. The next Labour group meeting in the diary is May 7 and their final decision will be needed in time for the next full council meeting on May 20.