WORCESTER’s Labour Party will have a new leader for the first time in more than 20 years after Coun Adrian Gregson stepped down from the role.
He will be replaced by Labour’s former Parliamentary candidate for Worcester Coun Lynn Denham who takes on the job after the party retained all of its seats at Thursday’s election and won back Nunnery from the Conservatives.
Coun Jabba Riaz will become deputy group leader in the shake-up as Coun Denham steps up from her supporting role into the spotlight at the Guildhall.
Her elevation comes amid uncertainty over just who will be elected leader of Worcester City Council next week. As per the council’s rulebook, Conservative leader Coun Marc Bayliss is currently at the helm as leader of the largest party but the position could be threatened should Labour and the city’s surging Green Party form a coalition.
Coun Gregson, the current deputy Mayor of Worcester, is widely expected to be elevated to the role of first citizen at the annual city council meeting on Tuesday (May 17)
Since taking over the role in May 2001, Coun Gregson has held the role of leader of the city council and played his part in supporting three Westminster candidates in Joy Squires, Coun Lynn Denham and former city MP Mike Foster.
He handed over the role with unanimous support of all 12 councillors to Coun Denham at meeting of the Labour group on Saturday (May 7).
Upon taking up the role, Coun Denham paid tribute to Coun Gregson’s leadership over the last two decades.
“Adrian leaves enormous shoes to fill as Labour group leader. He has led Worcester Labour’s city councillors with wisdom and integrity since the turn of the century, in tough times and in better times,” she said.
“Newer councillors have always benefited from the depth of his experience, and his continued presence within the group will be invaluable to all party colleagues in the years ahead.”
Congratulating Coun Denham on her new role, Coun Gregson expressed confidence Worcester Labour’s leadership was in good hands.
“Lynn is a tireless servant of the people of Worcester, and lives by Labour values of fairness, community and hard work,” he said.
“I’m certain she will lead the group by her example, and I look forward to working with her as the Labour group of councillors work to help tackle the cost-of-living crisis across the city.”
On his appointment as deputy group leader, Coun Jabba Riaz offered thanks to party colleagues.
“I am honoured by the faith that colleagues have placed in me. I look forward to working together to speak up for all those that we represent and for a better Worcester.”