Peterborough First add three former Conservatives to council group

Peterborough First is now the third-largest group on the council.
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Peterborough First’s numbers on Peterborough City Council have grown further after three more former Conservatives joined the group.

Cllr John Howard (Hargate and Hempsted) – former cabinet member for adult services and public health, Cllr Mohammed Farooq- former North West Cambs Conservative Association President- and Cllr Saqib Farooq(Glinton and Castor) are the latest to join.

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The three all resigned from the Conservative group in the wake of allegations by Cllr Mohammed Farooq of bullying and a toxic culture within the group.

Cllr Mohammed Farooq, Cllr John Howard and Cllr Saqib Farooq.Cllr Mohammed Farooq, Cllr John Howard and Cllr Saqib Farooq.
Cllr Mohammed Farooq, Cllr John Howard and Cllr Saqib Farooq.

Cllr Farooq was previously suspended by the group, claiming it was because he was accused of plotting a vote of no confidence against Leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald- which he said he was cleared of following an internal investigation.

The Conservative group has “strenuously denied” the allegations of bullying and a toxic culture.

The movements take Peterborough First up to 11 councillors and makes the independent group the third largest on the council; three more than the Liberal Democrats and just three less than the combined Labour group.

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There are now eight former Conservative councillors in the group as the three joined Cllr Ray Bisby (Stanground South), Cllr Gavin Elsey (Wittering), Cllr Chris Harper (Stanground South), Cllr Peter Hiller (Glinton and Castor) and Cllr Brian Rush).

Cllr Julie Stevenson is now the council’s only independent- not aligned to a group of any kind- once again.

Group leader Cllr Chris Harper said: “We are delighted to welcome Farooq, John and Saqib to Peterborough First.

"We feel that independent councillors have a critical role to play in our city in the coming years. For too long now, party politics have been a distraction for the council’s business and conduct, we want to put this right.

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"We are happy to work with political groups in the chamber who will put the people of Peterborough before politics. We have the experience as a group to contribute to the change in direction that’s needed for a better City”.

“As independent councillors, the Peterborough First group are able to focus their priorities on doing the best for the city, putting residents first away from any political, or external influence.”