Peter Soulsby

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Sir Peter Soulsby
Peter Soulsby.JPG
Mayor of Leicester
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded byOffice created
Leader of Leicester City Council
In office
January 1996 – May 1999
Preceded byStuart Foster
Succeeded byRoss Willmott
In office
May 1981 – May 1994
Preceded byKen Middleton
Succeeded byStuart Foster
Councillor Leicester City Council
In office
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
In office
8 October 2010 – 1 April 2011
Member of Parliament
for Leicester South
In office
5 May 2005 – 1 April 2011
Preceded byParmjit Singh Gill
Succeeded byJon Ashworth
Personal details
Born (1948-12-27) 27 December 1948 (age 72)
Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England
Political partyLabour
Lady (Alison) Soulsby
(d. 2011)
•Lesley Summerland - Domestic Partner
ResidenceEvington and Groby
Alma materUniversity of Leicester
WebsiteLeicester Mayor website

Sir Peter Alfred Soulsby (born 27 December 1948) is a British Labour Party politician and the current Mayor of Leicester. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leicester South from 2005 until he resigned his seat in April 2011, in order to contest the new post of mayor.[1][2] He faced calls to resign in 2020 from political opponents after he appeared to break rules on movement during a lockdown[3] during the COVID-19 global health pandemic.[4]

Early life[edit]

Soulsby was born on the 27 December 1948 in Bishop Auckland and attended the Minchenden School, a grammar school in Southgate, London. He studied at the City of Leicester Training College for Teachers Scraptoft, then a constituent member of the School of Education of the University of Leicester, through which degrees were conferred. He gained a BEd. He worked as a teacher at Crown Hills Secondary Modern School[citation needed]and in special needs schools.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

He was first elected to Leicester City Council in 1973 and served as the Leader of the Council twice[citation needed], firstly from 1981 to 1994[citation needed] and secondly from 1996 to 1999.[citation needed] He remained a Labour councillor until he was defeated in the Spinney Hill ward in May 2003.[5]

He unsuccessfully contested the Harborough parliamentary constituency at the 1979 general election. In 1984, he stood for election for the Leicester European Parliamentary constituency, narrowly losing to the Conservative incumbent Fred Tuckman by 1.6%.[6]

Parliamentary career[edit]

In 2004 he was the Labour Party's candidate in the Leicester South by-election; he had been the election agent for the previous MP, Jim Marshall, and like Marshall was not always in agreement with the party's policies. Despite his anti-war stance, Soulsby lost by 5.6% to Parmjit Singh Gill of the Liberal Democrats in a by-election which was dominated by the Iraq War and the newly formed left-wing party Respect, which took 12.7% of the vote. In the 2005 general election, less than a year later, he won the seat back for Labour from Gill.

On 31 October 2006, Soulsby was one of 12 Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.[7] He also rebelled against the government on its proposals to permit the detention of terrorist suspects for 90 days without trial;[8] however, in June 2008, he supported the government on the proposal to extend the detention of terrorist suspects for 42 days.[9] (see Terrorism Act 2006.) He retained his seat in the 2010 general election with a 5% swing from the Liberal Democrats.

In June 2010, he was selected as a Labour member of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee.[10]

On 5 March 2011, Soulsby was selected as Labour's candidate for the new post of Mayor of Leicester.[11] He resigned as MP for Leicester South in order to contest the mayoral election.[12] On 1 April 2011, Soulsby was appointed Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, effecting his resignation from the House of Commons.[2]

Mayor of Leicester[edit]

Sir Peter Soulsby was elected Mayor of Leicester on 5 May 2011, with a majority of 37,260.[13] He had previously served as Leader of Leicester City Council from 1981 to 1994 and from 1996 to 1999.[14] In August 2011, he claimed to have delivered 99 out of 100 pledges within the first 100 days of office.[15] He said the remaining pledge, on the future of the council offices in New Walk, would be achieved by Christmas.[15] However he was criticised by opposition councillors for not explaining what services would be cut in future.[15]

He has been re-elected as Mayor of Leicester twice, in 2015 and in 2019.


Salary review controversy[edit]

In November 2011, a salary of £100,000 was recommended by the Mayor's remuneration committee—a rise of £44,000, based on the fact that the mayor carried out the work of the city's former chief executive, who was paid £175,000.[16] The council was at the time proposing cuts of £70m in services, and the recommendations were criticised by opposing councillors and trade unionists alike. The independence of the committee, which included the vice chancellor of the local university, the head of the chamber of trade and a charity sector worker, was also challenged by the only Conservative councillor "as they worked closely with Sir Peter".[17] The committee, whose report had been leaked, also recommended a reduction in the number of councillors and the abolition of the post of Lord Mayor.[18] Soulsby dismissed the committee the following day, saying it had made "fundamental costing mistakes" and would have led to "totally unacceptable extra costs."[18]

In March 2012 Soulsby's salary was set at £65,000, "comparable to an MP's salary."[19]

Bribery allegation and subsequent court case[edit]

On Thursday 5 May 2016 Mohammed Zameer Khan[20] approached Sir Peter whilst he was outside a city school campaigning for the Labour Party candidate in that day's Police and Crime Commissioner election. Soulsby stated afterwards that the male had tried to bribe him. Sir Peter stated that the male patted himself down and said that he wasn't recording. He then stated that the man had offered him ten percent of any incentive money if Sir Peter allowed him to open a leisure facility, namely a bowling alley at the then disused and derelict Haymarket Theatre. Sir Peter returned to his council office and wrote a report on the event which he handed to council lawyers who informed the police.

The case went through court with the male (Mohammed Zameer Khan) stating that he had patted himself down to apologise as he was wearing pyjamas after dropping his child off at school, denied that he said anything about not recording the discussion and stated that he had said that he would give ten percent to charity and had not offered it as an incentive to Sir Peter. Sir Peter stated that charity was not mentioned at any point. Sir Peter described it as ‘’the most blatant attempt to bribe me in forty years of public life’’. The defendant wept in the dock as he was acquitted by the jury. He said that Sir Peter was a celebrity and ‘’hero type’’ and that he was over-awed by the encounter.[21][22][23]

Christmas Day bus lane fine controversy[edit]

On 25 December 2017, a man who pulled in to a bus stop on Christmas Day to help a homeless man was fined by the council. Lee Williamson of Leicester, said he stopped to give a homeless man a blanket, hat, gloves, scarf, food, and to chat to him. Mr Williamson later received a £70 fine, despite there being no buses on 25 December. Leicester City Council said the camera enforcement was an important safety measure.

When Soulsby confirmed that the penalty would not be enforced, he said "It was quite clear what Lee was doing was an act of a good Samaritan on Christmas Day and even though it's important to keep this safe... there are exceptions."[24]

Breaking of Coronavirus Restrictions[edit]

On 14 June 2020, the Leicester Mercury and The Sun tabloids published photographs showing Soulsby visiting his girlfriend during the coronavirus lockdown and reported calls from leader of the opposition, Nigel Porter, local Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives for Soulsby to apologise and resign his position.[25] He rejected calls to stand aside and apologised the following day. He was quoted by the BBC as having said "It can be certainly interpreted as being against the spirit of the lockdown, if not against the regulations."[26]

Personal life[edit]

He was knighted by Tony Blair in 1999 New Year Honours for his services to local government.

The insignia of a knight bachelor devised in 1926
Ribbon Bar of a Knight Bachelor

He was married to Alison Soulsby,[27] who died of cancer on 10 December 2011, aged 63.[28] He has three daughters from his marriage, one of whom is Leicester city Aylestone ward councillor Elly Cutkelvin whilst another is Cassandra Soulsby, councilor for Thurmaston parish in Charnwood.


  1. ^ "Sir Peter Soulsby MP steps down to enter mayoral race". BBC news. 6 March 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Manor of Northstead". HM Treasury. 1 April 2011.
  3. ^ "UK government legislation". BBC news. 26 March 2020.
  4. ^ "frontpageNewsLeicester NewsCoronavirus Calls for Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby to resign over alleged lockdown visits to partner's home". Leicester Mercury. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Leicester City Council Election Results 1996-2011" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Elections to the European Parliament 1979–99: Leicester". Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Labour MPs who rebelled on Iraq". BBC News. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  8. ^ "Terrorism Bill, Clause 23 – Extension of Period of Detention to 90 days". Public Whip. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 4 November 2006.
  9. ^ "Counter-Terrorism Bill – Extension of period of detention to 42 days". The Public Whip. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  10. ^ Jim Pickard (24 June 2010). "Westminster select committees: Labour & Tory membership". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  11. ^ Ferguson, Mark (5 March 2011). "Soulsby selected as Labour's candidate for Leicester Mayor". Archived from the original on 6 March 2011.
  12. ^ "Sir Peter Soulsby to stand down as MP following selection as Labour's Mayoral Candidate". East Midlands Labour Party. 5 March 2011. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012.
  13. ^ Elections 2011: Leicester Mayor | This is Leicestershire Archived 18 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Elected mayors and their value to a city – by Leicester's Sir Peter Soulsby". 18 April 2012.
  15. ^ a b c "Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby hails pledge 'success'". BBC news. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby set for £44,000 rise". BBC news. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Mayoral pay review panel's independence questioned". BBC News. 17 November 2011.
  18. ^ a b "Leicester mayor pay rise row panel sacked". BBC News. 18 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby's salary set at £65K". BBC News. 27 March 2012.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Businessman made 'blatant attempt to bribe' mayor, court hears". 20 March 2018.
  22. ^ "All updates in trial over claim man tried to bribe mayor". 21 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Businessman cleared of trying to bribe Peter Soulsby". 21 March 2018.
  24. ^ "'Crazy' Christmas fine cancelled by mayor". BBC News. 7 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Calls for Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby to resign over alleged lockdown visits to partner's home". Leicester Mercury. 14 June 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Leicester mayor apologises for breaking lockdown rules". BBC News. 27 December 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  27. ^ House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests – Part 2: Part 2
  28. ^ Leicester City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby's tribute to 'loving' wife | This is Leicestershire Archived 25 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parmjit Singh Gill
Member of Parliament for Leicester South
Succeeded by
Jon Ashworth
Political offices
Preceded by
Ken Middleton
Leader of Leicester City Council
Succeeded by
Stuart Foster
Preceded by
Stuart Foster
Leader of Leicester City Council
Succeeded by
Ross Willmott
New creation Mayor of Leicester
Preceded by
Councillor on and Member of Leicester City Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Succeeded by