New council leader set to take over in Sunderland after winning Labour leadership contest

Councillor Graeme Miller, set to become the new leader of Sunderland City Council after winning a Labour leadership contest
Councillor Graeme Miller, set to become the new leader of Sunderland City Council after winning a Labour leadership contest

A new man is set to take over the helm at Sunderland Civic Centre after the city's ruling Labour Group elected a new leader.

Washington South councillor Graeme Miller took the reins from incumbent councillor leader Harry Trueman in a Labour leadership contest today.

Harry Trueman

Harry Trueman

It comes after Labour lost five seats in Thursday night's council elections, which was only was slightly offset by the party gaining a seat in the Copt Hill ward.

Coun Miller, who was re-elected to represent his own ward on Thursday, said: “It’s an absolute honour to have been selected by my Labour colleagues to lead this party.

“Labour is a force for good in Sunderland. We have tremendous Labour councillors in this city who will continue to fight for the best deal for the people of Sunderland, despite the crippling austerity purge this Government continues to drive.”

He added: “I’d like to thank Councillor Harry Trueman on behalf of the party for his leadership over the last few months, and look to build on his work to win the confidence of people in this city and ensure they continue to vote Labour, for a fairer deal.”

Councillor Trueman took over as council leader in March, after the death of former leader Paul Watson, who passed away last year. He had previously served as Coun Watson's deputy.

Councillor Miller, who previously served as cabinet member for Health, Housing and Adult Services, assumes responsibilities of Labour Group leader immediately.

He does not automatically become council leader, but become's Labour's nomination for the post - which must be ratified in a vote by all councillors at the next full meeting of Sunderland City Council on May 16.

However, as Labour holds the vast majority of council seats, it would be extremely unlikely that Councillor Miller will not be appointed as the new council leader.

He will be assisted by Hendon councillor Michael Mordey, who will remain deputy leader after being re-appointed by his colleagues.

Councillor Mordey said: “I’d like to thank my colleagues for selecting me to be deputy leader once again, and I look forward to continuing to champion the work of a party I absolutely believe is delivering for Sunderland."

Councillor Phil Tye, who represents the Silksworth ward, has been chosen as chair of Sunderland Labour Group. He takes over from St Anne's councillor Thomas Wright, who was suspended by the party earlier this year.

Councillor Tye, who was elected to represent Silksworth with a majority of more than 500 votes on Thursday, added: “I absolutely believe in Labour in this city.

“We are a party that will fight for this city and I know that every one of my fellow councillors shares an absolute commitment to that cause. I look forward to chairing this group and delivering on Labour’s pledges over the coming months and years.”

The Labour Group will meet again next Saturday to discuss who will take over Coun Miller's cabinet post, and any other changes to the line-up of senior councillors.