Nick Forbes confirms he'll step down as leader of Newcastle City Council at next election

Nick Forbes was deselected by party members in his Arthur's Hill ward earlier this month, leaving him without a seat to contest in this May's local elections. Credit: PA

Newcastle will have a new council leader in May after Nick Forbes confirmed his time in the top job is coming to an end.

The long-serving Labour figurehead was dealt a blow earlier this month when he was deselected by party members in his Arthur's Hill ward, leaving him without a seat to contest in this May's local elections.

Forbes announced on Monday evening that he did not want to be parachuted into another ward in the city and so will not be standing in the next elections.

The 48-year-old revealed his decision at a cabinet meeting, saying that withdrawing from May's elections was the "one honourable choice available to me".

He said that representing another ward would feel like a "betrayal of the communities I have served" for his 22 years as a councillor and that he was "not prepared to ask for the Labour Party rule book to be exploited in my favour", either by seeking election elsewhere or trying to overturn the Arthur's Hill selection.

He will remain as Newcastle City Council leader, as well as vice-chair of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority and senior vice-chair of the Local Government Association, until his term in office comes to a close - but has asked for a new Labour group leader to be elected in the city before May, in order to give "clarity" to voters about the party's direction.

Councillor Forbes, a senior figure within the Labour Party nationally and an ally of Sir Keir Starmer, said: "Exiting Newcastle politics like this brings me mixed emotions and a heavy heart. 

"I am disappointed that I will no longer be a voice for Newcastle at regional and national levels, or be able to represent the city directly to Government, but I am immensely proud of having been the first LGBT leader of this council - and its second longest serving leader. 

"Above all, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have served my city, the wider local government family and the Labour Party. This I have done to the best of my abilities. 

"I intend to spend my remaining time in office securing a new devolution deal for the region, working on the Fabian Society commission that I lead about tackling poverty and regional inequalities, and thanking all the amazing people I have worked with during the past eleven years."

Councillor Forbes, Newcastle's first openly gay council leader, has led the city's Labour group since 2007 and the council since 2011, while he also serves as Labour's leader on the Local Government Association and is a member of Labour's National Executive Committee.

During his tenure as leader, he helped secure the region's first devolution deal for the North of Tyne and has set Newcastle a target of reaching Net Zero by 2030.