Peterborough City Council: New Conservative administration defeated in very first policy proposal

‘We’re going to make sure that we do better for the people of Peterborough’,councillor Shaz Nawaz said

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 5:29 pm

The new Conservative-led administration of Peterborough City Council has been defeated by 29 votes to 28, in its very first policy proposal.

The unprecedented event came towards the end of the Full Council meeting (23 May) when newly re-elected Leader of the Council, councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, put forward a policy appointing members to committees and other authorities.

There are 109 seats on committees of Peterborough City Council and the Conservatives had proposed that the allocation of seats on those committees be subject to political balance arrangements – with the chair of each of the committees appointed to the same political group.

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Peterborough City Councillor Labour leader Shaz Nawaz (image: David Lowndes)

Only two chairs were offered to the opposition groups by the Tories.

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Leader of the Labour Group, councillor Shaz Nawaz then put forward an alternative motion dividing the chairmanship of the committees between the political parties but also allocation of chair positions to female councillors – something that had not previously happened at Peterborough City Council.

When it came time to vote upon the amended proposal, it was successful by 29 votes to 28, defeating the Conservative-led administration.

Peterborough City Council leader Wayne Fitzgerald (image: David Lowndes)

As a result, none of the committees between 2022 and 2023 will be chaired by Conservative members.

At least three of the committees (Children and Education Scrutiny Committee, Growth, Resources and Communities Scrutiny Committee and the Climate Change and Environmental Scrutiny Committee) will now be chaired by female councillors.

‘More transparency’

Explaining what happened, leader of the Labour Group, councillor Shaz Nawaz said: “Opposition groups tabled an amendment to what the leader (councillor Wayne Fitzgerald) wanted, which was to give us an opportunity to share roles in terms of chairing different scrutiny and governance committees.

“Where we started from was where the leader offered us two chairs – the Green Party wanted one and the LibDems wanted one, so we in the Labour group stood back and said ‘okay, we’ll make way’.

“Then Peterborough First wanted councillor Chris Harper to chair the Planning Committee which he has done extremely well in the past.

“But the leader said no, he wasn’t keen to give three chair seats to the opposition.

“So, I spoke with opposition members who felt that it was fair, proper and right that we share committee posts because you have up to ten Cabinet posts, and they all go to the Conservatives running the administration.

“We felt we as the opposition should be part of the decision-making process, and so we tabled the amendment and as you can see by 29 votes to 28, we have defeated the administration tonight at the very first hurdle.

“There will be more transparency, and so we’re going to make sure that we do better for the people of Peterborough.”

Speaking after the meeting, councillor Wayne Fitzgerald said: “I had a meeting with the leaders of the opposition groups to see what it was they wanted, and I was under the impression that we had an agreement.

“I was, frankly, surprised to find that an amendment had later been tabled and disappointed after I had believed consensus had been achieved.

“But, the council has voted, and that is an end to the matter.”