Bristol deputy mayor Craig Cheney to stand down

Councillor Craig Cheney will stand down at the local elections in MayCouncillor Craig Cheney will stand down at the local elections in May
Councillor Craig Cheney will stand down at the local elections in May | LDR
He’s the second senior Labour councillor to stand down this week

Another top Labour city councillor will stand down at next May’s local elections, it has been confirmed.

Deputy mayor and cabinet member for finance Cllr Craig Cheney has made the “difficult decision” not to seek reelection after nine years representing Hillfields ward.

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It comes just days after the Labour group announced that Bristol City Council’s longest serving councillor Helen Holland, cabinet member for adult social care and former leader of the authority, will not contest her Hartcliffe & Withywood seat.

Cllr Cheney has overseen the council’s purse strings for the last eight years, balancing the books as required by law, but came under fire alongside others in the Labour administration for financial calamities, such as the collapse of Bristol Energy with the loss of about £42million of council taxpayer money.

Speaking of his time in office, he said: “I was exceptionally proud to be elected as councillor to Hillfields in 2015, the ward that I live in and grew up around.

“I love being a councillor for our community, but I’ve made the difficult decision to stand down next May.

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“During my time as a local councillor, I’ve worked with local people to improve our ward – securing funding to improve the community centre, co-locating the children’s centre in the library and founding the Friends of Coombe Brook Nature Reserve – creating the positive changes our area so sorely needs.

“I’ve also spent eight years as cabinet member for finance and seven years as deputy mayor.

“It’s been a challenging period of time – government austerity has forced councils to pass on its budget cuts, but I’m proud that we’ve managed to protect frontline services like libraries and children’s centres, when many councils couldn’t afford to do so.”

Prominent local campaigner Kelvin Blake has been selected to replace him as one of Labour’s two candidates in the ward, alongside incumbent Cllr Ellie King, cabinet member for communities and public health.

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Cllr Cheney said: “I leave Hillfields safe in the knowledge that Ellie is already a fantastic councillor, and I know Kelvin would make an excellent representative for our community too.”

Cllr King said: “The Conservatives have cut £6 in every £10 from council budgets since 2010.

“Steering the council’s finances throughout that time has involved extremely challenging and difficult choices.

“Craig has used his life experience and strong Labour values to secure public services that ensure those most vulnerable to austerity have been supported throughout the cost-of-living crisis and covid.

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“Our parks are getting significant investment and we have leveraged an unprecedented amount of external funding for decarbonisation projects like City Leap.

“I am grateful for his measured perspective and his focus on securing the best outcomes for our residents.

“Everyone should be able to recognise the contribution Craig has made to our city.”

Hillfields-born Kelvin, a former Bristol city councillor for Filwood, is a trustee for organisations including Second Step, the Robins Foundation and the SS Great Britain.

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He is a disability and Labour activist and was the election agent for both Mayor Marvin Rees and Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy.

Kelvin said: “I know the community well and I’m excited to hopefully represent them as their councillor, delivering a fairer, healthier and happier society than the Tories have done.

“I’m a non-executive director of North Bristol NHS Trust, where I chair the people committee and the patient experience committee.

“This is a cause close to my heart, as I spent six months in hospital following a motorcycle accident which left me paralysed.

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“I was a community activist long before the accident but since it I have a renewed focus on making Bristol a more inclusive place for disabled people.

“I have served as chair of West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL), a disabled-led charity focussed on this.”

Kelvin became a Labour councillor for Filwood in 1997 and served for six years, becoming chairman of the regeneration committee.

“I have spent my life campaigning to make Bristol a more just, inclusive city and I hope to do the same for Hillfields as a Labour councillor, carrying on the good work that Ellie and Craig have been doing for our community,” he added.

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The current mayoral system, which currently has an all-Labour cabinet despite the Greens being the largest group in the chamber, will be replaced by a committee system after next year’s local elections.

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