Labour leader says no 'Rainbow Coalition' possible at Peterborough Town Hall - leaving Conservatives to remain in charge of council

“A coalition would be too small in number, possibly leading to gridlock and paralysis”

By Stephen Briggs
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 11:29 am

The leader of the Labour Party in Peterborough has said there will not be a ‘Rainbow Coalition’ taking control of the City Council – leaving the Conservatives in charge at the Town Hall for another year.

Following this month’s local elections, the Conservatives had 28 seats on the council – the most of any party, but short of the 31 needed for an overall majority.

Discussions between group leaders of other parties had been taking place to find out who could lead the council. It was thought a so-called rainbow coalition of members of Peterborough First, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green parties could be possible.

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The Labour group on election night

But today, cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour Party – the party with the second most seats on the council with 17 – said a rainbow coalition would not be possible.

Head vs heart decision

He said: "This was ultimately a ‘hearts and heads’ decision for the Labour Group. The ‘heart’ wanting to work with opposition groups who are either not fooled or utterly disenchanted by the way the Conservatives have run our city for the past 23 years. Some are former Conservative councillors.

“The ‘head’, on the other hand, needs to be much less emotional, more pragmatic, thinking longer term about the greater good of the people and city of Peterborough. We have seen this administration admit to short-term thinking when longer term, less political thinking was needed to steer the ship.”

Coalition could lead to ‘gridlock and paralysis’

Cllr Nawaz said the number of opposition councillors was too small – with a number having different vested interests on the authoity.

He said: “A coalition would be too small in number, possibly leading to gridlock and paralysis, rather than implementing any effective changes, which would not be responsible.

“You may already be aware of the budget shortfall of some £27M that has been made up by deep and deepening cuts to our services. There has been talk but precious little action in promoting our city to bring in the investment we need to bring the higher skilled jobs that we can train our workforce to do to bring the level of prosperity our city needs and deserves. You may have seen the empty flower beds around the city as the Queen’s jubilee approaches leaving us bereft of colour and a sense of occasion for this truly once in a lifetime event. You may eventually feel the cold wind of change as energy prices soar, the use of foodbanks increases and, locally, cuts to social services finds more local people falling into poverty because this administration failed to stand up against its own Tory paymasters and accept cuts to funding that has led to us having to sell the family silver."

“We will hold the administration to account”

Despite talks to form a coalition ending, cllr Nawaz said his party would continue to hold the Conservative Party to account.

He said: “Make no mistake. We will hold this administration to account as we have and always will. We will support when, as a group, we believe that our support is in the best interests of the people and place of Peterborough.”

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