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City Council leader Cereste facing bid to force him out

Cllr David Harrington

Cllr David Harrington

Updated, 12 June: A bid to overthrow Peterborough City Council leader Marco Cereste and appoint a new chief of the authority will be made on Monday (16 June) - but opposition parties have already indicated that they will block the move.

Conservative Councillor Marco Cereste will face a move to force out him and his ruling cabinet colleagues at the council’s annual meeting on Monday (7.45pm) to remove Cllr Cereste and his Conservative party’s cabinet.

The motion will be made by Cllr David Harrington (Indp, Newborough). (See agenda for city council meeting, 16 June)

It comes after last month’s city council elections which saw the Tories lose their majority control of the authority.

But following the news, two prominent opposition councillors have stated they will reject the motion.

The council’s longest-serving councillor Charles Swift, wrote to the PT (see this week’s PT) urging fellow councillors to put “vendettas aside” and work together as a team.

Cllr Swift (Independent, North) wrote: “Are we going to remove the leader of the council and his administration only to ask them in a few weeks to come back, because we can not form one with the remaining members?”

Cllr Nick Sandford, leader of the Peterborough Liberal Democrats, declared his support for a committee system instead of a cabinet, but added the party not back the motion to remove Cllr Cereste because an alternative administration would not be able to agree on every issue.

Cllr Nazim Khan, leader of the Peterborough Labour group, said the parties had “massive decisions” to make at Monday’s meeting.

Cllr Cereste, who saw his party lose its majority control at last month’s elections has ruled out forming a coalition with other parties and vowed to continue as leader.

Cllr Harrington said if councillors back his bid he may put himself forward as a potential new chief.

He said:“This is nothing personal against Marco, I’m doing this because I feel that we need a clean sweep.

“The electorate has spoken and they don’t agree with the way the council is being run. So I think we owe it to the public to be seen to be trying to make changes.

“We need fresh ideas, a new direction and I want to switch from the current cabinet system to a committee one.

“The cabinet isn’t working, policies take too long and the scrutiny panels lack real power.”

He added: “If the motion is backed then I will propose we elect a new leader, it would then be a case of seeing who would want to do it.

“If nobody was willing to come forward then I would nominate myself as it’s my motion and I would look pretty silly if I didn’t.”

Meanwhile, councillor John Knowles (Paston) has announced his resignation from the Peterborough Labour group after two years. He said he would continue as an Independent.

More inside this week’s PT:

- Sleepless nights of cuts-making council leader Cereste

Letters on the subject from - Councillor Nick Sandford, also Lib Dem group leader, and Cllr Charles Swift OBE

-- The PT will be at the council meeting on Monday, beginning at 7.45pm, follow @peterboroughtel on Twitter or the #pborocc hashtag, which you can use to add your comments

Vote question: Should the council sell off land and assets to balance its books?

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