Former Peterborough council leader reflects on career after election loss

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A former council leader, a former Mayor of Peterborough and a councillor for 30 years - John Peach has enjoyed an eventful career since first claiming a seat in the then Liberal stronghold of Park ward.

But even after his long service came to an end last week to Labour’s Aasiyah Joseph there was no doubting his conservatism remains strong - “I will continue to try and tell the population of Peterborough of the sins of socialism,” he said with a laugh.

John Peach, Gillian Beasley, Aasiyah Joseph and Fiona Radic at the election count

John Peach, Gillian Beasley, Aasiyah Joseph and Fiona Radic at the election count

Mr Peach started out as a county councillor and today remains as the deputy chairman of Peterborough Conservatives, keeping him active in local politics while he weighs up what to do next.

But the former council leader - who served in the top position from 2006 to 2009 - said he is still committed to being active in his ward, and an attempt to regain the seat next year has not been ruled out,

“It’s been a great experience and an honour to represent Park ward where I live,” he said.

“The ward has changed a lot demographically. Half of Park ward includes Millfield - a lot of the people who are more conservatively minded have sadly died or moved out to other areas of town, but I still got the highest number of votes from anybody not elected on the night.”

Reflecting on his time as a councillor, he picks out helping to install speed calming measures in the ward as one of his main achievements.

On his time as council leader he also looks back fondly at the £12 million rejuvenation of Cathedral Square - of which a small part of that cost included the installation of the fountains. He added: “During my time as deputy leader and then leader I am pleased to say the Conservatives had a net gain of seats every year, ending up with 43 seats of the then 57 seat council.”

Current council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “One of the reasons we have one of the lowest council tax rates for unitary authorities was because of him. That’s his legacy - he led the country on that.”

Former MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson, who is also the president of Peterborough Conservatives, said: “He has given his life to Park ward. He has been a great stalwart and supporter of mine and a very personal friend.”

Liberal Democrat council group leader Cllr Nick Sandford said: “Our politics were polls apart but I always found him a friendly and respectful colleague.”

Mayor of Peterborough Cllr John Fox said: “It’s a very sad loss to the council. He has supported me this year and I have a lot of respect for him.”

A second high profile casualty of the elections was cabinet member for waste and street scene Gavin Elsey who lost to Julie Howell of the Green Party in Orton Waterville. Mr Elsey declined to comment when contacted by the Peterborough Telegraph.