Tributes to ex-coun­cil leader ‘Nev’

It is rare to find a per­son who di­vided opin­ion as much as Neville San­ders, a man who dom­i­nated the head­lines with his strin­gent views. Af­ter pass­ing away last week, Joel Lamy spoke to some of the peo­ple who knew him the best.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page -

Tributes have been paid to the for­mer Tory leader of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil Neville San­ders who has died aged 85.

Few men have stirred pas­sions more than Con­ser­va­tive politi­cian Neville San­ders - a plain-speak­ing cham­pion of the peo­ple, or an in­tol­er­ant, ag­gres­sive leader de­pend­ing on who you ask.

Few men knew Mr San­ders bet­ter than for­mer city coun­cil­lor Charles Swift, who told the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph: “I could fill up your whole pa­per with sto­ries about him” when asked for his own rec­ol­lec­tions of the man who served 20 years in lo­cal pol­i­tics, in­clud­ing four as coun­cil leader from 1999.

Mr Swift has seen both sides of Mr San­ders, who passed away last Fri­day morn­ing aged 85.

There were the clashes, both ver­bal and on one oc­ca­sion, Mr Swift claims, phys­i­cal, which saw Neville in court ac­cused of punch­ing him, although the charge was dropped and he agreed to be bound over to keep the peace.

But the good al­ways hugely out­weighed the bad when it came to Neville San­ders, ac­cord­ing to Mr Swift, who was leader of the coun­cil when Mr San­ders was first elected to rep­re­sent New­bor­ough in 1987 and be­came “a ter­ri­ble thorn in my side.”

He added: “There are two sides of Neville San­ders. The Lido would not have been there if not for Neville.

“He put his money into it and dec­o­rated it. He did a lot be­hind the scenes which peo­ple do not know about.

“At the end of the day he had a heart of gold. He has done an aw­ful lot of good work. A lot of de­ci­sions he took as leader of the coun­cil have come to fruition.

“The good he did for the city out­weighs his out­ra­geous state­ments.

“His great­est achievements are what the city is to­day. It’s a beau­ti­ful city with a good net­work on the roads. A lot of busi­ness­men in the city have a lot to thank Neville San­ders for.

“No­body in Peter­bor­ough had a more in­ter­est­ing life than he did. I re­gard him as more than a friend. I thought he was a great man.”

Mr San­ders’ son David is the cur­rent Mayor of Peter­bor­ough.

De­scrib­ing his dad as a “unique char­ac­ter”, he said: “He was in­valu­able, he taught me the univer­sity of life and how to be a survivor and a lot of stuff I will hope­fully take on into my adult life.

“He had the ca­pa­bil­ity to un­der­stand the most com­plex is­sues with ease.

“I think his legacy is he took a bank­rupt coun­cil which­was in the red and brought it into the black with no over­all con- trol with the help of a cou­ple of op­po­si­tion peo­ple.

“He used to put his hand in his pocket and sub­sidised projects he thought were worth­while.

“And he never took any ex­penses. Per­son­ally I think he would speak out with­out fear or favour when per­haps oth­ers were too shy to.

“My dad was the right man for thecity coun­cil in that era.”

Cllr San­ders has two fond­est mem­o­ries of his dad. They were, he con­tin­ued, “him tak­ing the time and trou­ble to teach me the ways of life.

“But more than that the boat­ing. Since I could walk I was on the sea. He was a big Royal Navy man and to this day I have a pas­sion for boats.

“He worked hours and hours, it was ridicu­lous. I’ve al­ways known my dad to work seven days a week. He was not one for hol­i­days.”

Neville San­ders be­gan his life in West Town with his fa­ther and four brothers, with the fam­ily grow­ing up in near poverty.

He spent 10 years in the Royal Navy then came back and ran three busi­nesses - NB San­ders Trail­ers Ltd, NB San­ders Car MOT and a prop­erty rental firm.

Made a Free­man of the city, Mr San­ders’ 19-year po­lit­i­cal ca­reer came to an end when he lost his New­bor­ough seat to David Har­ring­ton in 2006.

His death was sud­den but not sur­pris­ing af­ter years of kid­ney dial­y­sis. He is sur­vived by David and grand­chil­dren Harry and Olivia.

Cllr San­ders said he will miss his dad now that he is gone. “I will just shout out to the old man, but sud­denly he is not around,” he added.

Neville San­ders

Neville San­ders with John Holdich, the cur­rent leader of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil

Neville’s son and cur­rent Mayor of Peter­bor­ough David San­ders

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