DEPUTY mayor Ian Jones has joined the council’s main opposition party — five months after quitting Labour.
Cllr Jones was ditched as the ruling group’s choice for mayor last spring over his cross-party work to stop Droppingwell tip reopening.
He has been sitting as an independent since quitting Labour in September — but will now stand for Rotherham Democratic Party in the May elections.
Cllr Jones said he took time to mull an invite from RDP over Christmas but soon realised he shared the party’s aspiration to change the borough for the better.
The Rotherham West ward member added: “I took a week to consider if I could effectively represent my residents as an independent and, although I believe I could, I also evaluated what I could bring to the wider borough as part of a group.
“I realised that the only way things could change for the benefit of the residents of Rotherham, would be a change in administration.
“I decided to take part in a Rotherham Democratic Party candidates meeting and soon realised amongst the candidates there was an aspiration to see Rotherham change for the better of its residents. They also brought with them skills in business and a passion to make that change which I had not seen before.”
Cllr Jones made accusations of bullying at Labour as he left in September after ten years, saying there had not been the desired change in the post-Jay report era.
RSPCA investigating after hamsters abandoned in park
Workers must get tested if they show symptoms — advice as new variant spreads
No place like home for the beer and music festival
Sam’s song of success
“I was elected to represent Rotherham West back in 2015,” he added. “This was supposed to be an end to the mal-administration and bullying culture, not only in the council but also the Labour group, at that election I returned the second highest vote in Rotherham.
“The hope for the 2016 all-out election was that it would bring in new councillors with skills of scrutiny, business and a new ethos of openness and transparency.
“In the following five years, I became the most active of ward councillors, carrying out 30 to 40 hours a week supporting local residents and directly intervening in over 1,500 people’s concerns with the council.
“I also objected to the Labour group’s stance on the Droppingwell Tip and the demolition of Kimberworth Infants School. This made me a target for the ‘old guard’ within the Labour group.”
Cllr Jones said his caseload went up after he went independent, with some residents saying they had not approached him as a Labour member because of “the group’s possible interference”.
“The Rotherham Labour group were given a second chance in 2016 to demonstrate they had changed, unfortunately they have failed to do this, or convince the public of Rotherham,” said Cllr Jones.
Labour found Cllr Jones in breach of the group’s “media protocol” for confirming his deselection to the Advertiser last March. He was also reprimanded for telling his wife that she would not become mayoress as expected.
RDP became aware of Cllr Jones’ difficulties with Labour through the Advertiser’s coverage last year and his partnership work on Droppingwell with Cllr Paul Hague, who is also in the main opposition group.
“Their working relationship developed in the face of scant support from other local Labour councillors and cabinet members,” said RDP leader Cllr Allen Cowles.
“It was natural in these circumstances that we would wish to speak to Ian, knowing that he is a hard-working councillor and that we had already shown our support for him as deputy mayor.
“Ian didn’t instantly agree to join us, preferring to think things over and we did not attempt to rush him to make a decision,” added Cllr Cowles. “It was only a few weeks ago that Ian was sufficiently convinced that his views and ambitions for Rotherham were sufficiently compatible with ours.
“We are delighted that he has decided to join us and we firmly believe that Labour’s loss is our gain.”