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Byline: Mike Malyon

FROM being a young apprentice footballer with Coventry City, John Haynes has gone on to become an elder statesman in local politics.

After chalking up a hat-trick of council chairmanships, the 78-year-old Labour Party stalwart is now on course to make history as the only person to be mayor of Nuneaton and Bedworth on two occasions.

Coun Haynes achieved the honour in 1983 and was this week elected as deputy mayor for the next 12 months, with the chance of stepping up to again wear the main civic chains in 2012.

"I was really surprised to hear of my nomination," said the Bede Ward member. "I only came back onto the borough council last year, after losing my county council seat. In 52 years of being involved in local politics, that had been my only time not serving as a councillor.

Now, after being given this role as deputy mayor, I feel highly honoured."

Coun Haynes was a talented schoolboy footballer when he was taken onto the groundstaff at Highfield Road. "Then known as the Bantams and under the managership of Harry Storer, Coventry had a very good team but my mother wanted me to get a proper job."

He took up a career in teaching and made his first steps as a councillor at 23 when he was elected onto the old Bedworth Urban District Council. He was chairman before it was disbanded under local government reorganisation. As a founder member and the first leader of the new Nuneaton Borough Council in 1974, Coun Haynes went onto become mayor and was later chairman of Warwickshire County Council.

"I am proud to have done a clean sweep, including a return to the borough council. My heart has always been in local politics and the Labour Party and I'm now really looking forward to being deputy mayor," said Coun Haynes.

He will serve alongside the new mayor, Labour colleague Neil Phillips.

The 52-year-old benefits department worker represents Abbey Ward and, like Coun Haynes, also showed sporting prowess as a teenager. Coun Phillips was twice champion at Nuneaton Golf Club and was being tipped as a future professional.

But, after having a variety of jobs, he turned to further education and gave up golf to earn a place at Coventry University, where he gained a degree in sociology and politics. "I thought it was an achievement to have my name on the champions' board at the golf club," he said. "But, to be mayor and to be listed on the civic roll of honour certainly beats that."


HONOUR: John Haynes at the election count and speaking to supporters with Michael Foot in 1983 (right)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 14, 2011
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