Peter puts his finger on it!

Peter Thirlwall’s letter published this week in the Advertiser provides us with pen portraits of the past leaders of RMBC.

Views on our leaders

“Since the formation of Rotherham Council in 1974, there have been four different leaders. I have known all of them and would like to share with your readers my personal opinion of them.

The first was Jack Layden. I wasn’t too fond of Jack but have to admit that he was a crafty old fox and a real political operator.

The second was Keith Billington.  He was capable, honest and ran the council in an open and transparent way. In my opinion, he is the best leader we have had.

The third was Mark Edgell. He was probably the brightest of the lot but unfortunately did not have Rotherham at his heart.

Last but not least we have Roger Stone. Compared with his predecessors Roger is the worst leader we have had by a country mile. Roger seems to have all the bad points of the other leaders and none of the good points. Roger has no political vision, is secretive and none too bright. He survives by patronage and limiting his opposition by surrounding himself with a weak cabinet.

If Sue Ellis had succeeded in becoming leader in 2003, and she very nearly did, what a different sort of council we would have now. Unlike Roger, Sue would have had all the good points of the previous leaders and none of the bad. At least we are lucky enough to have her as a councillor for Wickersley.

I would welcome other reader’s views on the leaders of our Council and hope that my letter has set the ball rolling.”

Peter Thirlwall

Previously published: More determined than ever!

13 thoughts on “Peter puts his finger on it!

  1. What about the Deputy leaders Peter please tell us about them
    Some of them have more interesting stories we would all love to know about
    Like who was really involved with Garvin Reed who was helping Roger with Steel Action
    Which Labour Councillors were behind Edgell with getting Rotherham into unaffordable dept with PFI for schools Swimming Baths etc you was in the know as a Labour Councillor at the time it must have been discussed and agreed with the Labour Group.


  2. Sir Jack Layden would never in a million years have permitted the situation that developed under Keith Billington’s leadership. Nice chap, but not in control. I think back to the reign of terror that developed in the 90s – which included two crazy reorganisations and the anti-poverty scandal. Things were so bad that Eric Manns once told me, “It’s every man for himself”.

    If I got on it, I could write a book!

    David Wright


  3. If Roger Stone wasn’t so weak he would have sacked Jahangir Akhtar by now for disloyalty.
    Jahangir is telling anyone who will listen that they need to keep on the right side of him, because he will be Leader of the Council next May!
    Brutus didn’t give Caesar as much warning.


  4. What I was hoping to achieve with my letter to the Advertiser is starting to happen. However if readers think this is a stick to beat me with I will stop doing it. For the time being I’ll continue.
    It will be difficult to know where to start, even on the three responses to date, but I’ll make a start: Firstly, Lovedinnington. Yes you are right but what are you doing about it? Have you stood for election yourself. If not, why not? Secondly Caven Vines, What you are asking for will come in future letters so please be patient. What I can tell you is: I personally voted on every occasion in Labour Group against PFI, BT Brought Together, Imagination Library, Bramley Traffic and Supertram and did so until my position in Labour Group became untenable. Thirdly David Wright. I take it you are the David Wright I know! Although you have fond memories of Jack, the Garvin era started in Jacks days and was allowed in order to keep Jack in office for his last couple of years. When I said Jack was a real political operator he did not compare with Garvin in that respect.
    Please keep reading Rotherham Politics for more to come and please also keep making your comments.


    • “Lovedinnington. Yes you are right but what are you doing about it? Have you stood for election yourself. If not, why not?”

      Wheels within wheels.

      I’m sort of like the thinking man’s Peter Thirlwall.


  5. I’ll think about it. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the 90s, and possibly no good would come out of me stirring up things that are dead and buried. The problem arose from a combination of greed on the part of some, and weakness on the part of others. But I will think about it.


      • Not quite true. Here, in summary, are the main lessons I learned:

        1. Cosy relationships should not be allowed to develop between officers and members. A difficult one to enforce, I know, but very important.

        2. Although politicians don’t like to be told things they don’t want to hear, officers should have the guts to say what they think, and record/report the fact if their advice is ignored.

        3. Members should not be afraid to question advice by officers.

        4. Meaningful corporate governance systems should be put in place and rigidly enforced.

        5. A meaningful, and safe, whistle-blowing system should be put in place and rigidly enforced. Any abuse of it should lead to severe disciplinary action.


  6. Hi David, Hope you are keeping well. You are perfectly placed to give the background to Jack. I can generally only speak on Jack from a political perspective but you spent much more time with Jack in the privacy of council committee briefing meetings.
    By the way, Happy New Year to all your readers.


    • Hi Peter – yes I’m well and I hope you are too. I also wish everyone a Happy New Year.

      Sir Jack was certainly not without his faults, but he was only a shadow of his former self, both healthwise and politically, during his final few years as Leader. I stick by what I said in my previous comment.

      After leaving RMBC in 1999, I worked for a number of Nottinghamshire parish councils until reaching 65 earlier this year, when I retired. You may be amused to hear that, together with some musician pals from my younger days, we’ve put a little rock band together. We’re at the Cranworth on Saturday. You can read about us by googling East Side Rhythm Aces.


Leave your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.