Opinion: Administration have been played - and Labour have key to the Town Hall

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It was announced this week that Labour are forming a minority administration at the Town Hall after the previous leader resigned, writes Paul Bristow MP.

This is despite not having a majority and losing the popular vote in Peterborough.

This time last year the Conservatives had 30 out of 60 councillors but due to disgruntled group members this went to 22, with 8 defectors going on to form the vast majority of the previous administration.

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Unfortunately, we all knew this could only exist with the backing of Labour and this has now become all too apparent.

Peterborough Town Hall - Labour is now in control of the city councilPeterborough Town Hall - Labour is now in control of the city council
Peterborough Town Hall - Labour is now in control of the city council

They were allowed to run things only until Labour decided they had the opportunity to do so themselves.

Now they no longer have the backing of the Labour group, so no longer run the administration. They have been played at their own game and given the keys to the Town Hall to Labour.

Before the elections the Conservatives message was clear: a vote for anyone else was a vote for Labour.

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Local elections are somewhat different to a General Election, there are lower turn outs and there is “tactical” voting.

This was the case in many wards this year where the Conservatives missed out on multiple seats by a handful of votes.

Just two votes was the difference in Park Ward, six in Dogsthorpe, nine in Eye, Thorney, Newborough and 34 in Gunthorpe.

It is interesting to note that in the majority of wards a Liberal Democrat candidate was fielded there was no Peterborough First candidate and vice-versa.

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Was this pre-arranged in order to split the Conservative vote or just a coincidence?

The popular vote in Peterborough was still won by the Conservatives, with 13345 votes to Labour’s 12021.But this wasn’t enough to prevent a minority Labour administration at the Town Hall.

Labour won the most seats fair and square and this is the system we have, I am not complaining.

I would have been re-elected as Peterborough’s MP if this was the general election.

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There are a lot of marginal wards but it is certainly a reminder if you vote Liberal Democrat, Peterborough First or Green you will end up with Labour.

This was true at the Local Elections, where we now have a self-proclaimed “Corbynista, tribal Labour, from Manchester” leader of Peterborough City Council.

And it will be the same when it comes to the General Election, if too many Conservatives stay at home or vote tactically, we could end up with a Keir Starmer imposed Labour candidate from Milton Keynes as our MP.

I do hope the new minority Labour administration run the Town Hall to the best of their abilities. After all my constituents rely on the services they are responsible for. I will work with them when possible in order to achieve for our city but I will hold them to account at the same time.

The message for now is clear though, a vote for any party other than the Conservatives is a vote for Labour.

(This column was written before the General Election was announced)