Labour appoint new Stoke-on-Trent leader – and here’s what she wants to do


Labour councillors on Stoke-on-Trent City Council have chosen their new group leader.

Burslem Central councillor Jane Ashworth OBE was elected unopposed by her 14-strong opposition group, and is believed to be Labour’s first permanent female leader in the city.

Her long-serving predecessor Mohammed Pervez unexpectedly stood down and resigned as a councillor back in May, and the election to replace him was delayed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Ms Ashworth, who was first elected as a city councillor in 2019, has vowed to offer constructive opposition to the authority’s ruling Conservative group and fight for improved local services.

She is the co-founder and chief executive of national sports charity StreetGames, having previously worked for Sport England, and was awarded an OBE for services to community sport in 2011.

Ms Ashworth takes over a Labour group which has been in opposition on the council since 2015, having lost two elections in a row after previously dominating politics in Stoke-on-Trent.

She said: “I know we have a lot of work to do to win back people’s trust. I don’t think we lost that trust due to the candidates we put up – it was more because of national politics. But now we have to fight for the things that matter the most to people in Stoke-on-Trent. People aren’t interested in more yah-boo politics. We need to fight for good local services and jobs.

Former Labour group leader Mohammed Pervez

“Too many families are being hammered by the local Conservative council and their Conservative leader, Boris Johnson. The basic services we all rely on are not always good enough, our streets are dirty and neglected. Some of the decisions the local Conservatives have tried to make are downright immoral. They hurt the people who need help the most.

“It is my mission to improve life in the city: too often we are forgotten about by central government and the local council doesn’t put up a strong enough fight. We need to send a message to Boris: we have kept our side of the bargain, people have worked hard all their lives, and raised their children properly. Now we need him to meet his side of the bargain and invest in our city.

“This is no time for business as usual. Labour in Stoke-on-Trent has suffered setbacks in the last 18 months and it’s my job to turn that around. Under my leadership, Labour is turning the page and getting back to what we were created to do – standing up for hardworking families.”

Ms Ashworth’s election means all three political groups on the city council are now led by women, with Abi Brown leading the Conservatives and Ann James in charge of the City Independents.

Ms Ashworth added: “I think this reflects the more prominent role that women are now playing in politics. But just because we are all women does not mean that we’re going to agree on issues.”

Fenton East councillor Paul Shotton, who has been Labour’s interim leader since Mr Pervez’s resignation, will continue as the group’s deputy leader.





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