Council leader Gary Porter is to become a member of the House of Lords following an initial approach from Prime Minister David Cameron.
The new ‘job’ was confirmed in a phone call from a special parliamentary adviser at Number 10 on Tuesday – and Coun Porter and wife Karen celebrated that night with fish and chips from Jack’s Fish Bar in Holbeach Road, Spalding.
The first approach was from the Prime Minister in June. It’s all been a bit surreal, really, I have tried to keep it out of my head.Coun Gary Porter
Coun Porter said: “The first approach was from the Prime Minister in June.
“It’s all been a bit surreal, really, I have tried to keep it out of my head.
“It was David Cameron himself. He said he was thinking about doing it, what did I reckon?
“I said ‘yes’ once I realised it was him and not someone winding me up.”
He would like to be Lord Porter of Spalding but his actual title will be decided at a meeting with an official from the House of Lords on Tuesday, September 8.
He said: “I think it will be Lord Porter of Spalding. There’s been more than one Porter in the Lords before so it’s Lord Porter of somewhere.
“I don’t think I could go for the whole of South Holland because that would encompass John Taylor’s area as he is Lord Taylor of Holbeach.
“My wife will be a Lady but she’s always been a lady ever since I met her.”
He said peerages aren’t like the honours system, where a reason is given.
“It’s not like an honour, they don’t tell you,” he said.
Coun Porter has already been made a CBE for his services to local government.
The former builder was also a shop steward with the Transport and General Workers’ Union – and claims his role as chairman of the Conservative Councillors Association means he’s “shop steward for all of the Conservative councillors in the country”.
He says: “My politics are pretty much the same as they have always been.
“Governments should get off people’s backs and let us get on with living our lives with as little interference as possible.”
Coun Porter says he will take work in the Lords seriously.
He said: “I am not a make-weight. People should know that by now.”
Coun Porter is also chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) and says he will divide his time between South Holland District Council, the LGA and the Lords “however I need to”.
At this time, he’s not aware of any specific job or ministerial role that might come his way in the House of Lords.
Coun Porter believes he wouldn’t have been offered the peerage without the hardworking teams of staff at South Holland and the LGA.
He said: “Nobody who has been part of the teams should think ‘he’s got it’. I haven’t. We have got it. It kind of is for the teams.”
South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes said: “Gary and I come from similar backgrounds and it’s just wonderful that in our country people can rise to the top of Government and to the House of Lords from wherever they start if they are determined enough and if they apply themselves.
“I don’t think there’s been any time in the history of Lincolnshire – and certainly in the history of this part of Lincolnshire – where we have had two members of the House of Lords and an MP all living in the heart of the Lincolnshire fens.”
Mr Hayes said he recruited Coun Porter to the Conservative Party from the Referendum Party in the 90s and Coun Porter has been his campaign manager at successive general elections as well as a good friend.
“I am delighted he’s been enobled,” Mr Hayes said. “He has got a distinguished career in local government and he has done remarkable things in South Holland and also made his name nationally where he is very well respected for the role he has played in the Local Government Association. This is great news for him and also the people of South Holland.”