Conservatives lose control of Peterborough City Council - but set to hold onto power

The Conservatives have lost control of Peterborough City Council but are set to keep their grip on power on a mixed night for the main parties.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 3:56 am
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 6:58 am
Nicola Day celebrates winning Orton Waterville for the Green Party

The Tories saw their number of seats drop from 31 to 28 out of 60, but the party can expect the support of the three Werrington First councillors.

Labour gained three seats and the Liberal Democrats two, with the Greens also taking a second seat.

All three parties said they will discuss trying to remove the Conservatives from power but will need to persuade Werrington First to do a deal.

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Nicola Day celebrates winning Orton Waterville for the Green Party

Werrington First leader Cllr Steve Lane said he is “open to discussions” with the opposition parties and would do a deal with “whoever can prove to me that they have the right ideas to continue the progress Peterborough is already making”.

However, he acknowledged that “from past experience” his group were unlikely to reach an agreement with the opposition.

Council deputy leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, who held onto his seat in West ward, said: "Overall the result could have been worse. The main thing is the Conservatives will still be the largest single party on the council and will still be running the council.

“We live to fight another day.”

The count at The Cresset

On an exciting night at The Cresset, which saw 20 of the council’s 60 seats up for grabs, it appeared the Conservatives may lose enough seats to be in danger of being ousted from power, but crucially they took Bretton from Labour by just 22 votes at the end of the night.

Senior officials from the major parties acknowledged Brexit had played a factor in night's results and the overall turnout of 33.58 per cent.

UKIP, who not so long ago had four city councillors, were wiped out after John Whitby lost Fletton and Stanground to the Lib Dems.

Two of the seats gained by Labour had previously been held by the party, but had become vacant after their councillors resigned.

The evening began slowly with the only change being in Hampton Vale, the seat of deselected Conservative councillor Dave King, which went to Lib Dem Chris Wiggin.

However, the night sparked into life when the Lib Dems took Gunthorpe from Labour, whose candidate Julia Davidson used to represent the Lib Dems.

Moments later it was announced that Labour had taken Orton Longueville from Conservative Gavin Elsey, a former cabinet member for waste and street scene.

Labour also took Ravensthorpe from the Conservatives, but crucially the Tories held onto Hargate and Hempsted and Fletton and Woodston before snatching Bretton, which saw the defeat of longstanding Labour councillor Stuart Martin.

However, former council leader John Peach, who was booed by Labour supporters, failed to regain his seat in Park ward for the Conservatives.

Senior cabinet members Cllr Fitzgerald and Peter Hiller (Glinton and Castor) comfortably retained their seats.

The happiest party on the night were the Greens. Two years ago they had never had a single city councillor in Peterborough, but now they have two in Orton Waterville after Nicola Day defeated Conservative June Stokes.

Ms Day, the party’s parliamentary candidate for North West Cambridgesire, said “I’m absolutely delighted. I knew from the response I was getting on the doorsteps in the last few weeks we were doing very well.

“But I did not expect to smash it with a near 1,100 majority.”

Labour group leader Cllr Shaz Nawaz said his party had enjoyed a “great night overall” and highlighted the number of new female councillors his party had gained.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Nick Sandford said he was “really pleased” that his party now has nine councillors, its highest number ever.

But he admitted he was frustrated at coming “tantalisingly close” to winning two more seats.

One of the biggest casualties of the night came in the final result when Liberal Democrat Bella Saltmarsh, a councillor since 2006, lost her seat to Labour’s Katia Yurgutene.

Overall result

Conservatives - 28 seats (net loss of 3)

Labour - 17 seats (+ 3)

Lib Dems - 9 seats (+ 2)

Werrington First - 3 seats (no change)

Green Party - 2 seats (+ 1)

Liberal Party - 1 (no change)

UKIP - 0 (- 1)

Two seats were previously vacant

Turnout: 33.58%