Peterborough City Councillor Council leader Wayne Fitzgerald
The new administration of Peterborough City Council is Conservative-led and the leader of the council will be councillor Wayne Fitzgerald.
Doubt had arisen following the 2022 Local Elections a few weeks ago when the Conservatives, with 28 seats, remained the largest party but did not have the 31 votes required to pass any policies.
Last night, the matter was resolved at the Full Council meeting (23 May) and was agreed upon unanimously.
‘Get on with the job’
In accepting his role again, councillor Fitzgerald said: “I am pleased that the uncertainty of the last few weeks is now over, and we can now get on with the job of getting this council to financial sustainability, and ensuring investment, growth and prosperity continues in our city.
“The members who have shown faith in me to lead the council in what have been difficult and challenging circumstances for the coming year, have my sincere gratitude.
“And even to those who perhaps not whole-heatedly agree, I am trying to do my best and I encourage all of us to work together to that aim.”
There was brief talk of a ‘rainbow coalition’ made up of the Labour, LibDem and Green groups who, between them, also have 28 seats, but that would have required ongoing support from the four independent councillors who make up Peterborough First.
However, new Leader of Peterborough First, councillor Chris Harper stated often that his members would only vote according to their individual consciences, that party politics would play no role in their decision-making, that there was no ‘whip’, and that all policy decisions would be voted upon the merits of the policy in the interests of the people of Peterborough.
While three of the Peterborough First councillors had gone on record saying that they would not support a Conservative-led administration under any circumstances if it were led by councillor Wayne Fitzgerald.
In the end it was decided that ‘the numbers simply did not add up’, as councillor Shaz Nawaz, Leader of the Labour Group, put it, and the coalition idea was scrapped.
Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald had been installed as leader of the council for a period of four years on 26 May 2021, and when the time came he accepted the role again for the municipal year 2022/23 without challenge.
‘On the right path’
Councillor Fitzgerald added: “My desire is to work constructively with everybody – even through the difficult times – for the benefit of the council and our great city; that remains my focus.
“With the challenge that we face to achieve financial sustainability we must all try to put aside party politics.
“We need to work together in a way that gives central government confidence in our ability.
“When I became leader of the council last May, I said I wanted the council to be as transparent as possible and allow people to have a connection with those they’ve elected to serve them.
“To this end, I will continue to run the ‘Ask The Leader’ sessions in which members of the public can question both myself and the Cabinet about matters which matter to them.
“I intend, where appropriate, to invite opposition members to these forums so that they can give their view about the way the council is run, and also report back to residents.
“There may be challenging times ahead, but we’re on the right path – and I know that’s difficult to accept at times, but I want to work with all the political parties in this room even though we may not always agree; but it is vital that we work together to give government confidence in us and to improve Peterborough for everyone.”