Chris Harper takes over as leader of Peterborough First group on city council

Stanground South Councillor Chris Harper before he left the Conservative group.Stanground South Councillor Chris Harper before he left the Conservative group.
Stanground South Councillor Chris Harper before he left the Conservative group.
Peterborough First has announced a change in leadership.

Councillor Chris Harper has taken over as leader of the Peterborough First group on Peterborough City Councillor.

Cllr Harper, who represents the ward of Stanground South, joined the group in December after resigning from the Conservative group, accusing the regime at the time of leading the city down a “wrong and dangerous route.”

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He is joined in the group by the three Werrington First councillors John Fox, Judy Fox and outgoing mayor Steven Lane. Unlike other parties on the council, the group acts as a collection of independent councillors and has no whipping system, leaving councillors with complete freedom to vote as they wish on each individual issue.

Cllr Harper said: “I’m very pleased and deeply honoured to announce that last night I was selected to be the leader of the Peterborough First Group on Peterborough City Council.

“My sincere thanks to my group colleagues for putting their faith in me so soon after becoming an Independent Councillor and I would like to offer special praise to the previous leader Cllr John Fox, for his sterling work and guidance.

“My first tasks are to meet with the CEO Matthew Gladstone and set up meetings with all the political groups in the next few days so as we can understand what they are proposing for our city for the next year.

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“Be assured, I remain your fiercely Independent ward councillor here to help you in whatever way I can and as a proud Peterborian, seek only to do what is best for you, the residents of our ward and city.”

For the last three years, Werrington First and later Peterborough First has supported the Conservative group to make up the numbers it requires to control the council.

The group are expected to be important once again as control of the council remains in the balance following last week’s elections. The support of the councillors within the group is expected to decide whether the Conservatives remain in power or a coalition between the opposition parties take control.

Currently, the Conservatives hold 28 seats, with 31 needed for a majority. The opposition parties (Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green) also hold 28.