Opposition Peterborough councillors want a deal to oust the Conservatives
Opposition councillors in Peterborough hope to reach a deal to oust the Conservatives.
The Tories saw their majority disappear after tonight’s local elections, with their number of councillors falling from 31 to 28 on the 60 seat council.
However, with the Conservatives normally able to rely on the support of the three Werrington First representatives, it is unlikely they will lose their grip on the council which they have held for almost the entirety of this millennium.
Still, that will not stop Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party (who hold a combined 28 seats) from trying to reach a deal before the annual council meeting on May 20.
Leader of the council’s Lib Dem group Cllr Nick Sandford said: “We are really pleased we have a net gain of two to make nine councillors which is the biggest number of councillors the Liberal Democrats have had in Peterborough.
“When we spoke to people they said they thought the council was unaccountable. It’s a shame we could not take a couple of extra seats to have effective control.
“We know Werrington First vote with the Conservatives. Unless they are going to change a habit of a lifetime you are looking effectively at Conservative control.
“We hope to be proved wrong and see Werrington First have a transformation, but I can’t see it happening.”
Cllr Sandford said Brexit had played a part with some votes, but that residents were responding to hard work from the Lib Dems all year round.
He added: We will be pushing for a much more open and accountable council and to replace the cabinet system.”
Labour group leader Cllr Shaz Nawaz, who also highlighted apathy over Brexit, said his party had enjoyed a “great night overall” with a net gain of three councillors.
On the balance of power on the council, he said: “The Conservatives could well have to rely on Werrington First. It’s a bit like the DUP (nationally). When things are working well they will work well, but when there are disagreements they will have problems.
“I will be happy to have a conversation with Werrington First and I’m sure there’s plenty of common ground.
“They want to see more housing, to eradicate homelessness, improve education results and create a strong local economy.”
Cllr Nawaz said if there was an option to work with other parties Labour would be “naive” not to pursue that.
Green Party councillor Julie Howell said herself and fellow Green representative Nicola Day would be open to “working collaboratively with members of other parties to do what’s best for the people of Peterborough.”
She added that having a second Green councillor following Ms Day’s victory in Orton Waterville will allow them to “create more noise” in the Council Chamber with the submission of more motions.
Werrington First leader Cllr Steve Lane said he was “open to discussions” with the opposition parties and would do a deal with “whoever can prove to me that they have the right ideas to continue the progress Peterborough is already making”.
However, he acknowledged that “from past experience” his group were unlikely to reach an agreement with the opposition.
Judy Fox retained the group’s strangehold in Werrington by holding onto her seat.