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.
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 with John Holdich, the current leader of Peterborough City Council
Neville’s son and current Mayor of Peterborough David Sanders