Peterborough Conservative leader to ask Marco Cereste to apologise over election victory gesture

Marco Cereste will be asked to apologise over a gesture he made after being elected back onto Peterborough City Council.

Wednesday, 11th May 2016, 12:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2016, 1:42 pm
Local elections 2016 at the Arena. Local elections 2016 at the Arena. The return of Marco Cereste EMN-160605-014101009

Councillor Cereste, the controversial former council leader, has denied that the gesture - which saw him point his index finger and little finger towards the camera - was in any way offensive.

But the leader of the Conservative group on the council, Cllr John Holdich, wants Cllr Cereste to say sorry if he has caused any offence even if he did not intend to.

Cllr Holdich, who is also the council leader, said: “I do not think he intended to offend, but he should apologise if he did cause any offence.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Cllr Holdich will meet Cllr Cereste on Friday where the gesture will be discussed.

And the council leader said he will warn Cllr Cereste to be more careful in the future as he is a man “in the spotlight,” but stated that he cannot take any further action as Mr Cereste was not a councillor at the time he made the gesture as he had not signed his forms.

He added: “I’ll look him straight in the eye and I will know if he is being sincere about [the gesture].”

Cllr Holdich said he had received two complaints over the gesture and had passed them onto the council complaints department to investigate, adding that he had followed the proper processes.

A council spokeswoman said: “We received two complaints relating to a gesture made by Councillor Cereste in a Peterborough Telegraph photo on election night.

“Under the Local Government Act a person is not a councillor until four days after an election, upon retirement of the former councillor.

“As Councillor Cereste was not a councillor at the time he made the gesture, the council is not able to investigate the matter under the Councillor’s Code of Conduct.”

The Peterborough Telegraph has also been contacted by people saying the gesture was offensive.

Cllr Cereste has already stated that there was no malice intended with his gesture, saying it was a classic Italian gesture for good luck.

He also said he had received no complaints over it.

Cllr Cereste took the third and final spot in Hampton Vale after voting in local elections last Thursday (May 5).

The result marked his comeback a year after he had lost his seat in Stanground Central which brought an end to his six-year stint as council leader.

Meanwhile, Cllr Holdich was re-elected unopposed last night (Tuesday, May 10) as leader of the Conservative group, but he refused to comment on whether Cllr Cereste will be brought back into the cabinet.

He said: “I will sit down with senior members of the group and see who has the time and who will do the best job.”

The council leader would also not state what policies he is going to bring forward for the next year. Instead, he will wait until a meeting of the full council a week on Monday to make his announcements.