Werrington First group react to holding the ‘balance of power’ on Peterborough City Council

Werrington First's Cllr John Fox addresses the full council meeting.Werrington First's Cllr John Fox addresses the full council meeting.
Werrington First's Cllr John Fox addresses the full council meeting.
Werrington First group leader, Cllr John Fox, said his group will act as true independents as the Conservatives have no overall majority on the city council.

The new Leader of Peterborough City Council is Conservative Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald who has been Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Public Health for the last four years, and represents West Ward.

He accepted his nomination for the role at a ground-breaking meeting (26 May), at the East of England Showground where councillors met face-to-face in the same room for the first time in nearly fifteen months.

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The Tories are two seats short of an overall majority on the city council and so the position of independents Werrington First is crucial.

Reaction to Cllr Fitzgerald’s appointment came from the Leader of Werrington First Group, Cllr John Fox, who said: “Can I remind all councillors what being independent really is?

“If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea – end of! If it’s a bad idea, it’s a bad idea – end of!

“It is as simple as that. We choose how we vote – we do not have a whipping system, as my two colleagues will tell you.

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“We do sometimes disagree with one another and I know people in other political parties will know.

“But the good thing is that if we’ve got a problem, we don’t bring questions and motions to the council; what we do is go and knock on the door of the Leader.

“Cllr Cereste’s door is always open, and he’ll tell you that I was regularly in there with him – not to have a cup of tea and a chat, it was because I could go to him with problems.

“John Holdich was exactly the same – if you had any problem you could go to him and sort it out, and we quite often did just that.

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“If I get a similar response from Cllr Fitzgerald, we, as independent councillors will be over the moon.

“True independents are independent. We can do what we feel is best for this city, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Leader of the Green Party, Cllr Julie Howell, said: “On behalf of the Green Group I congratulate Cllr Fitzgerald on his appointment as Leader of the Council and we look forward to working with you in the coming year.

“This has been such a strange year, with so many suffering a personal loss of a level never known before.

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“The vaccination programme has been nothing short of a miracle, and we’re very proud that two of the key vaccination centres are our wards of Orton Waterville and the Showground and at Halls the Chemist, who recently administered their 20,000th vaccine.

“What an incredible contribution from our local businesses and volunteers

“As Peterborough opens up again, we look forward to a year of recovery and anticipate the regeneration that will make our city stronger than it was before.

“During lockdown, residents’ interest in the environment around them peaked, and we expect public scrutiny of how we develop our public spaces to be greater than before and the development of the Embankment is already on people’s minds.

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“I’ve always thought of Peterborough as a city by the countryside. Now we must fight to protect our heritage, develop our culture, create more jobs, attract more businesses and ensure that Peterborough is a safe and pleasant place for people live and visit.

“On the Green Party’s agenda is the council’s commitment to fighting the climate emergency.

“We keenly anticipate the development of a food strategy that will ensure that no Peterborough resident goes without access to nutritious food, and the Green amendment to the budget will ensure that everyone lives in a warm home.

“We are also passionate about improvements to public transport, and encouraging greater use of active travel choices such as walking and cycling.

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“We want Peterborough to be an accessible city, where all services, businesses, amenities and environments are fully accessible to everyone, including disabled and older people.

“We’re excited about the new University which will create highly-skilled professionals who will work in the emerging green economy.

“There could be so much to look forward to as we gingerly begin our lives again in the ‘new normal’.

“Our thanks at this time are extended to Chief Executive, Gillian Beasley and her team, including the recently retired Director of Public Health, Liz Robin, for keeping the council going over the past municipal year and for the flexibility shown by so many council officers who moved into alternative jobs to keep the city going, for establishing the hub that has made sure our residents were fed, warm, safe and well during this difficult time.

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“If there are easier times ahead, one can only wonder at what we can achieve by working together.”

Following strict Covid-19 regulations, all councillors sat with a social distance of two meters between them, and all attendees were required to provide negative Covid-19 tests before they were allowed into the Showground.

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