Conservatives will continue to lead Peterborough City Council without a majority or coalition

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The party may have to rely on at least one non-Conservative councillor to pass votes held at full council

Peterborough City Council's (PCC) leader and cabinet members will be confirmed on Monday, 22nd May, at a meeting marking the start of the new administrative year.

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald (Conservatives, West) is the council's current leader and has already been confirmed as the Conservative group’s leader for the coming year, with Cllr Steve Allen (Conservatives, Eye, Thorney and Newborough) confirmed as his deputy.

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Both councillors were re-elected at this year's local elections; the upshot of which, for the Conservatives, was that they strengthened their control of the council by gaining two new seats, but failed – by one seat – to form a majority.

Wayne Fitzgerald is the current leader of Peterborough City CouncilWayne Fitzgerald is the current leader of Peterborough City Council
Wayne Fitzgerald is the current leader of Peterborough City Council

On the night of the election count, Cllr Fitzgerald said that his party is “very much in charge right now” in Peterborough.

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But he added that he has “always said to the opposition, I’ll work with them financially” – such as by collaborating on the council’s budget — and that “my attitude hasn’t changed; I want to work with all members and all parties”.

The Conservatives have controlled the council since 2000, with either a majority (2002–2012; 2016 and 2018) or the most seats of any individual party.

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This usually means that the council's leader and cabinet are Conservative, with group decisions being made at cabinet meetings.

But, in the coming year, the party will have an equal number of seats to Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Peterborough First and PCC's independents combined (30 each).

As such, during full council meetings, it may have to rely on the support of at least one other councillor to pass votes on decisions which need an overall majority.

The party isn't considering entering a coalition, though, with Cllr Fitzgerald confirming it hasn’t partnered with another group, such as Peterborough First which helped pass its most recent full council vote.

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Its leader, Cllr Chris Harper (Peterborough First, Stanground South), also confirmed that “in no way would we ever agree a policy to support any particular political party”.

Peterborough First is made up of Cllr Harper and three Werrington First councillors: Cllr Judy Fox, Cllr John Fox and Cllr Stephen Lane.

Although the councillors have formed Peterborough First together, they are all technically independents, and as such vote independently in any way they choose.

The advantage of forming a group, Cllr Harper says, is that they can “meet and discuss agendas, issues and proposals”, but ultimately don't have a whip who ensures the party members vote as a unit.

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Peterborough’s Green Party also does not have a whip and as such its councillors may also not vote in the same way as each other.

The Conservatives have benefited from the support of Peterborough First and the Green members in the past; PCC's most recent full council vote was on its budget, which passed with the support of all Conservatives, all Peterborough First members and two Greens.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, one Green councillor and one Independent abstained.

Reflecting on the budget vote on election night, Cllr Fitzgerald said: “I’m one of those people that has worked hard in the last two years to get the budget passed. Only one member voted against it, who’s incidentally lost his seat tonight – Cllr Ansar Ali. That work will continue.”

As well as the council leader and cabinet, a new Mayor of Peterborough will also be appointed.

The outgoing mayor is Cllr Alan Dowson (Labour, Fletton and Woodston).

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