Peterborough councillor performs U-turn to remain in ruling Conservative group
Councillor Gul Zawaz has returned to the Conservative party on Peterborough City Council - just hours after it was confirmed by senior party members he had resigned from the group.
Cllr Nawaz, who was re-elected to the council last week, made the U-turn following meetings with Peterborough Council leader John Holdich today (Friday).
His planned defection would have meant the Conservative party would no longer have had a majority on the council. Following last Thursday’s election they had 31 councillors, with the authority being made up of 60 seats.
The revelation comes after Prime Minister David Cameron visited Peterborough which was the only council in the country to be gained by the Tories during last week’s local elections.
Mr Cameron told his jubilant supporters in front of the Conservative Club, in Broadway, to celebrate their achievement having gained control of the council.
This morning, cllr Holdich said: “I can confirm that Gul has resigned from the Tory group but intends to remain as an independent councillor for Ravensthorpe.
“I’m disappointed by his decision so soon after winning a big Conservative vote at the election but the council will remain led by a Conservative administration.”
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said cllr Nawaz’s planned defection had been as a result of his expectation he would be chosen as city mayor. Cllr Nawaz has served as deputy mayor in the past.
The new Mayor of Peterborough, who will replace Cllr John Peach in the role, will be another Conservative in Cllr David Sanders.
Under council rules, the position of mayor is offered to the most senior sitting councillor who wants the position and has not held it before.
Cllr Sanders has been a councillor since 1997, while Cllr Nawaz has been a councillor since 2002.
Cllr Nawaz, who was elected as deputy mayor in 2008, served a one-month jail term in 2002 for falsely claiming £3,000 of housing benefit from the council.
He is not up for re-election for another four years after topping the vote in his ward in last Thursday’s election.