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PCC leader retires after fifty years of public service

Peterborough City Council leader Cllr John Holdich OBE made an emotional farewell speech to his fellow members as he attended his last City Council meeting - via zoom - before retirement.
John Holdich crop
PCC John Holdich has retired from office

Speaking to members of the Full Council at their online meeting (3 March), he said: “I promise not to make a habit of this, because it is the second time that I’ve done it.

“Tonight is my last council meeting, and the end of 142 years of a Holdich being involved in one council or another in this city.

“I want to put on record my thanks to my long-suffering wife and family whose support has enabled me to carry out this public service.

“Also, to all officers who have supported me over the years, and I have to tell you your current officers and staff are the best and over the last twelve months have shone in this hour of the city’s need.

“There have been many highlights in my career which I will not bore you with, except to say I fronted this council’s campaign to become a Unitary Authority, I also supported having a Combined Authority which, in its short life, is delivering 657 affordable homes for the city, we’ve had £44m for various schemes and £40m towards our University.

“I leave this council with this exciting project about to be delivered.

“I thank you all for your help and support, and I leave this council with the city’s future looking very bright.”

Cllr Shaz Nawaz, Leader of the Labour Group, responded: “I think John likes to make my life difficult because I said all those nice things about him a year ago and it's deja vu again.

“I think it’s fair to say, and I’m sure John would agree, that more often than not he and I always agree… to disagree.

“But what we do agree on is that we want the best for Peterborough and for the people of Peterborough.

“Once again, this year he’s demonstrated that; he could’ve taken the easy route and retired last year, but he decided to stay with the council and serve through what’s been a difficult very difficult year for everybody – and that shows his level of commitment to Peterborough.

“I could go on and talk about all the things John has done because I think he’s served for the best part of fifty years, but to keep it short and to finish our long line of disagreements, I do agree that John has earned his well-deserved retirement and I wish him the best of luck, and the Labour Group wants to wish John and his family all the best for his years of service on the council.”

Cllr Nick Sandford, Leader of the LibDems, added: “Cllr Holdich has been on the council for quite a long time, even longer than I’ve been here.

“I first came across him when I was standing as a Liberal candidate in the Ravensthorpe by-election in February 1987.

“We were together there at the count and he said to me ‘I think you’ve got this’.

“Unfortunately, he was incorrect and I lost the election by twenty votes; but it just shows how uncertain these things can be.

“Of course, our paths have crossed on a number of occasions since, and when I first got on the council, he was shadow-spokesperson for housing.

“It has been his passion for education and of course his push for a University for Peterborough that are among the things he can be most proud of.

“I’ve actually disagreed with him on a number of occasions, but I think I can say that since he became Leader, the debates that we’ve had at council have been that bit more civilised and more respectful for the majority of the time.

“And certainly, much more than some of the debates we had in the chamber around the year 2000.

“I think we must also pay tribute to John for having announced his retirement once before, and then agreeing to continue through what has probably been one of the most difficult periods in this council’s history.

“I would like to conclude by wishing him a really happy retirement and I hope that he actually gets to enjoy it.”

Cllr Stephen Lane, Leader of the Werrington First Group added: “We’ve all witnessed John’s involvement in local politics for many years, and more recently his leadership of the council where I think he’s always been fair, firm and consistent.

“As well as all of that he’s naturally good natured and will always listen and John uses all of that knowledge to help get things done.

“I closing then, I would like to quote from Horace, a Roman poet, who said ‘You have played enough, you have eaten and drunk enough… now is the time to depart’.

“John, having had a year to prepare for this moment, you must be well and truly sated – so thank you, from John, Judy [Fox] and I for your endless commitment to public service.

“To you, and to your good wife Barbara – for there is always a good lady behind a good man – we wish you a well-deserved rest, good health and happiness.”

Cllr Julie Howell, Leader of the Greens added: “There have been few positive aspects to this pandemic, but having Cllr Holdich remain with us as Leader of the Council for a little bit longer, has meant that the council and the city have benefited from an extra twelve months of your wisdom and experience.

“Your decision to stay on for another year has brought us all stability in a very unstable time.

“Thank you, John, for your generosity in putting the city first and we wish you a long, and happy and healthy retirement.”

Mayor Cllr Gul Nawaz reiterated the messages read out and on behalf of all councillors thanked Leader Holdich for his commitment to public service and wished him a happy retirement.