Peterborough council elections: Anti-lockdown party, big names departing, defections and familiar faces seek return
A full list of candidates for the upcoming local elections has been announced.
Voting will take place on Thursday, May 6 for the election of 23 city councillors in Peterborough (out of 60 seats), and as usual there are a lot of intriguing sub-plots to keep an eye out for, some of which are summarised below by the Peterborough Telegraph:
The end of Conservative rule?
The Conservatives have been in control of Peterborough City Council since 1999, either with a majority of seats or with the help of other parties/independents.
However, after a net loss of three seats in 2019 they were left with 28 out of 60, meaning they have relied on the support of the three Werrington First councillors to have enough votes in the Council Chamber.
That number for the Tories has since reduced to 26 following the deaths of Louise Coles and Janet Goodwin, with their seats yet to be filled.
While Cllr Goodwin’s seat was due to be contested this year, Cllr Coles would not have faced re-election, meaning two seats will be fought over in Fletton & Woodston.
Overall, the Tories are defending 15 of the 23 seats which are being contested, compared to just four for Labour, two for the Liberal Democrats, one for the Liberal Party and one for Werrington First.
When the results are counted on the Friday, if the Conservatives and Werrington First do not manage 30 seats between them there could be an almighty scramble to try and form an administration with the opposition parties possibly looking to form a coalition cabinet.
However, this could be complicated by Labour’s decision to suspend two of its current councillors while the party carries out an investigation into an alleged disciplinary matter.
Big names on the way out?
As previously revealed, both council leader Cllr John Holdich (Glinton & Castor) and cabinet member for finance Cllr David Seaton (Hampton Vale) are not seeking re-election this year, meaning arguably the two most senior figures at the authority are leaving.
Those defending their seats includ leader of the Labour group Cllr Shaz Nawaz (Park) and leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Nick Sandford (Paston and Walton).
Other high profile seats include West ward, where cabinet member for children’s services, education, skills and the university Cllr Lynne Ayres is up for re-election; Ravensthorpe, where current Mayor of Peterborough Cllr Gul Nawaz (Conservative) holds the seat; and Fletton & Woodston where the serving councillor is Andy Coles.
Cllr Coles (Conservative) has been the subject of protests after his past as an undercover cop was revealed.
Councillors not seeking re-election
At least 10 out of the 22 wards in Peterborough will have a new representative next month.
As well as Cllrs Holdich, Seaton and Goodwin, the council will be saying goodbye to the final member of the Liberal Party, Chris Ash, one of its longest serving councillors, who has been representing Dogsthorpe.
Four Conservatives - Azher Iqbal (East), Mohammed Nadeem (North), Kim Aitken (Orton Waterville) and Diane Lamb (Wittering) - are also not seeking re-election.
Neither are Darren Fower in Gunthorpe (Labour) or James Lillis in Fletton & Stanground (Liberal Democrat).
A number of former councillors are seeking a return, including Paul Bristow’s predecessor as MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes (Labour, Fletton & Woodston) and former council leader John Peach (Conservative, Park).
Others include: Nick Thulbourn (Labour, East), Stuart Martin (Labour, Glinton & Castor), Jonas Yonga (Labour, Gunthorpe), Dave King (Hampton Vale) and Gavin Elsey (Conservative, Wittering).
Green with envy?
The Green Party won its first two city councillors in the previous two elections.
This time around the party has two candidates who have experience as councillors, but for other parties.
The Greens will be standing former Tory June Bull in Orton Longueville and Nazreen Bibi in Ravensthorpe after she left Labour, alongside a number of other candidates in other wards.
Return of UKIP?
UKIP lost all representation on the council in 2019 with the defeat of John Whitby who is standing for election in Fletton & Stanground again, but this time as an independent.
However, UKIP is also contesting four seats - Bretton, Dogsthorpe, Orton Waterville and West.
Inevitably, we could not avoid coronavirus, with three candidates standing for the ‘Freedom Alliance. No Lockdowns. No Curfews.’ party in Central, Fletton & Woodston and West wards.
There is also a candidate for The For Britain Movement in Bretton and independents standing in: Dogsthorpe, Fletton & Stanground, Hargate & Hempsted and Wittering.
Current balance of seats
Conservatives - 26
Labour/Labour and Co-operative - 15
Lib Dems - 9
Werrington First - 3
Green Party - 2
Independents (both previously Labour) - 2
Liberal Party - 1.