Peterborough political group leaders speak out ahead of meeting between Conservatives and Peterborough First in bid to find new council chief

“Following tonight’s meeting we shall convene a meeting to see if there is an appetite to form an alternative administration with the opposition parties.”

By Rob Alexander
Monday, 16th May 2022, 2:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 11:49 am

Leaders of the political groups on Peterborough City Council speak out ahead of tonight’s (16 May) meeting between the Conservative Group and the four independent councillors who make up Peterborough First.

The meeting is vital as the outcome may determine who runs the council after next week’s Full Council meeting on 23 May.

As things stand following the 2022 Local Elections, the former administrators, the Conservative Group, have 28 councillor seats.

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Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald

The Labour Group (17 seats), LibDems (8 seats) and Greens (3 Seats) combined also have 28 councillors seats.

Therefore no one group has overall control of the council, and with a minimum of 31 votes required to pass any policy, it remains to the four independent councillors from Peterborough First to determine power.

Tonight, the Conservative Group hosts Peterborough First in the hope that they can persuade them of their policies going forward and seek support in order to continue administering the council as they have done since 1999.

However, three of the four independent councillors have gone on the record stating that will not support a Conservative-led administration while Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald remains their leader.

Cllr Fitzgerald was re-elected Leader of the Conservative Group, unopposed, just last Monday.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s meeting, Cllr Fitzgerald said: “Obviously I cannot speak as to any outcome as we have not yet had the meeting.

“However, what I can say is that I’m not sure there will an ‘outcome’ it’s a meeting to discuss our plans for the coming year as an administration with opposition members.”

Cllr Nicola Day, newly elected Leader of the Green Party Group said: “I cannot comment on the meeting between the Conservatives and Peterborough First as I am not part of those private discussions between those groups, and I must respect that.

“The Greens are keen to form a new administration working together with other groups in whatever form that may take.

“We would work extremely hard to make that happen.

“We are in agreement with forming a new administration and we would bring a fresh energy, outlook, and vibrancy to the table.

Cllr Nick Sandford, Leader of the LibDems said that in his opinion: “While there is a lot of uncertainty as to what may or may not happen, I think what the four independents are trying to do is to personalise the matter in respect of Wayne (Cllr Fitzgerald).

“Now from my point of view I don’t think that he is the problem.

“I think the problem is more the way the council operates; Wayne has been able to use the ‘Leader and Cabinet’ system as a means of driving through some fairly unpopular policies.

“What I think should happen going forward is that we as opposition should use our leverage to promote policies that make sense bearing in mind that the council needs a stable administration because it is under such severe financial pressures.”

Cllr Shaz Nawaz, Leader of the Labour Group said: “Following tonight’s meeting we shall convene a meeting to see if there is an appetite to form an alternative administration with the opposition parties.

“Should we go ahead with that, obviously we want to ensure that it is something workable and long-term.

“It’s our collective aim to make sure that the council becomes financially sustainable, and that must be at the forefront of everything that we do.

The outcome of tonight’s meeting between the Conservative Group and the four independent councillors of Peterborough First, should there be an outcome, will be reported tomorrow.