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Cambridge city councillor John Hipkin to retire from politics after three decades

John Hipkin, currently the longest-serving councillor on Cambridge City Council, will not stand at the upcoming elections and is retiring from politics.

Cllr Hipkin, who turns 86 this month, has represented the Castle ward since 1992, with the exception of a year’s break in 2007. He has also served two stints on Cambridgeshire County Council, once as a Labour councillor in the 1970s, and as an independent between 2013 and 2017.

Cllr John Hipkin. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr John Hipkin. Picture: Keith Heppell

The former secondary school teacher, who also worked as a director for the Advisory Centre for Education, is currently the only independent on the city council.

Born in Derby, and having grown up in orphanages and then with foster parents in London, it was love that led him to a life in Cambridge at the age of around 30.

He had been given a motorbike by a friend and decided to drive from London to the Edinburgh Festival. He stopped in Cambridge on his way, having decided his vehicle may not be up to the rest of the journey after all. On his first night in the city, he met the person who would go on to be his wife.

Cllr Hipkin has since remarried, to Marie-Louise Holland, who also served as a councillor for a period on Cambridge City Council, between 2014 and 2018.

His time on the city council started as a Liberal Democrat, but that he became an independent in 2008 after what he described as a “bust up” with the party.

Announcing his decision not to stand in this year’s elections on May 6, Cllr Hipkin said: “In the years that I have served on both councils I have made many friends and colleagues, some of whom are sadly no longer with us. I remember them all with affection and respect. I have found my life as a councillor deeply fulfilling and rewarding and I bow out with a mixture of pride and regret.

“I would like to thank the many neighbours and ward members who have helped me in my campaigns. The same goes for those Castle residents who have loyally supported me with their votes over many years. I am deeply indebted to my family whose steadfast support has kept me going.

“All things considered, I leave local politics with a sense of pride in my achievements and of thankfulness for the many opportunities to serve that members of the public and my council colleagues have afforded me since I first entered politics. I hope that my successor will continue to look after the interests of Castle and of the city. Whoever that might be I wish them well.”

Cllr Lewis Herbert, the Labour leader of the city council, said: “Labour councillors thank John warmly for all his contributions to the city and to Castle residents over the past 29 years, including as a chair of planning committee and as mayor - positions we were pleased to support him achieve, and which he delivered with style and distinction.”

Cllr Herbert said “it isn’t easy” being an independent councillor, and said: “John cares deeply about Cambridge and was always thought-provoking, able to influence an audience and well worth listening to and usually heeding.

“As a former Castle ward resident, I know the high esteem John was held in locally, and I hope when I reach my eighties to be on the same good form”.

Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on the city council, said: “In his long years in the council chamber, and both a one-time mayor and chair of the planning committee, John has demonstrated a strong sense of public duty.

“He has served both as Labour and Lib Dem councillor in the area over the years and finished up as an independent. The city as a whole has reason to be grateful for his long-term public commitment, his advocacy for his ward and the articulate manner with which he presented any case he took up.”

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