John Holdich: Former Conservative council leader says he’s left party as he backs Peterborough First candidate

John Holdich has endorsed a Peterborough First candidate in his former ward of Glinton and Castor
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A former Conservative council leader says he's left the party.

John Holdich led Peterborough City Council (PCC) between 2015 and 2020 before retiring after serving as a councillor for more than 40 years.

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“I’ve not been a member of the Conservative party for nearly three years because I don’t like what’s been going on locally,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS). “I’m still a Tory at heart and I support Rishi Sunak.”

Former council leader John HoldichFormer council leader John Holdich
Former council leader John Holdich

He has endorsed a Peterborough First candidate, Neil Boyce, who is standing in his former ward of Glinton and Castor in this year’s local elections.

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Mr Boyce is running against Claire Bysshe (Liberal Democrat), Sue Farr (Labour), Greg Guthrie (Green Party) and Andrew Willey (Conservatives).

“On this occasion, it isn’t a question of politics,” Mr Holdich said. “I believe Mr Boyce will do a good job for my village and the other villages he’s bidding to represent.”

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But he is running with Peterborough First – the group that led a vote of no confidence in former leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald (Conservatives, West) and his administration.

Cllr Mohammed Farooq (Peterborough First, Hargate and Hempsted) took over from Cllr Fitzgerald after resigning from the Conservative group alongside six other former members last year.

‘Conservative resignations wouldn’t happen under my leadership’

“I don’t believe any of this would happen under my leadership,” Mr Holdich said.

“I never put the whip on once in the years I was leader. We always talked stuff through and came out with a sensible solution. Most of the other parties either abstained or followed me.”

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Cllr Fitzgerald said his group was cohesive before the spate of resignations and that the remaining Conservative councillors remain united and supportive of his leadership.

With 22 councillors, the Conservatives remain the largest party on PCC and Cllr Fitzgerald remains its leader.

“The group and former colleagues of Mr Holdich are disappointed that he’s chosen to endorse the Peterborough First group and their candidates,” Cllr Fitzgerald said.

In campaign literature, Mr Holdich has described Mr Boyce as a “friend for many years” and Cllr Peter Hiller (Peterborough First, Glinton and Castor), among those who resigned from the Conservative group, a “close colleague”.

Peterborough First is a group of 10 councillors. It's defending four seats and fielding four new candidates on 2nd May.