Jabba Riaz could become Mayor of Worcester in 2015

Worcester News: Councillor Jabba Riaz Councillor Jabba Riaz

A WELL-KNOWN Worcester councillor is still celebrating after coming through the biggest battle of his political career - and has paid his own tribute to the voters.

Councillor Jabba Riaz, who won the Cathedral ward by 198 votes after switching sides from the Tories to Labour, admitted he was on tenterhooks to see how the electorate would side.

Your Worcester News can also reveal how the businessman is being lined up to potentially become the Mayor of Worcester in a year's time.

If Labour keeps control of the city council, it is considering making him the deputy mayor on Tuesday, before taking over the ceremonial chain from May 2015.

Cllr Riaz says during last Thursday's crunch vote he was concerned about "the unknown UKIP factor".

In the end despite finishing second in eight city wards, UKIP only got 367 votes in Cathedral, making way for a Tory-Labour two-horse race.

Cllr Riaz said: "It was a real battle and you're never over-confident until the results are in.

"On the day itself we knew that if results didn't go our way, it wouldn't be down to a lack of hard work on our part.

"But the unknown UKIP factor was a concern. Any candidate who says they are confident of romping away with it is lying.

"I'd like to say a huge thank you to the residents for giving me another four years.

"We ran as positive a campaign as we could and I'm very appreciative of the faith they've put in me."

Back in October Cllr Riaz stunned the city's Conservatives by crossing the chamber and joining Labour after failing in a bid to switch to the safer seat of Battenhall for this year's count.

After coming under fierce criticism from the Tories, he then said he would have quit the party anyway after becoming disillusioned with David Cameron's policies.

The Conservatives tried to make him regret the move by standing former city councillor Francis Lankester against him, but despite Mr Francis polling 1,021 votes it wasn't enough.

Cllr Riaz would not confirm the mayoral talks, but your Worcester News understands it has already been discussed within the group.

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