Re-elected Peterborough Labour leader believes party will be in charge of council in 12 months

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The newly re-elected leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council believes his party will be in charge of the authority in 12 months’ time.

Cllr Shaz Nawaz was unanimously backed for a second term in the role at last night’s group meeting in the Town Hall despite former leader Cllr Ed Murphy being proposed as an alternative.

Cllr Shaz Nawaz

Cllr Shaz Nawaz

Labour made gains at last week’s local elections but the opposition parties just fell short of having enough seats to oust the Conservatives from power, despite the Tories losing their majority.

But despite the near miss Park ward member Cllr Nawaz is confident in 12 months’ time he will have ousted council leader Cllr John Holdich from the role under a new administration, albeit one likely to need the support of other parties.

Cllr Nawaz said: “This is our opportunity in the next 12 months to show the people of Peterborough the Labour group is ready to take control.

“In the first year under my leadership we created some good policies - this year we will look to improve them.

“I would be very surprised if in 12 months’ time we are not in control.”

However, Cllr Nawaz sounded a warning that there are “key policy areas we are not willing to negotiation on” should negotiations to form a coalition administration take place after next year’s council elections, where 22 seats out of 60 will be contested.

Last week the Conservatives fell from 31 seats to 28, while Labour increased its total from 14 to 17, although two of those gains were vacant seats the party had held previously before the sitting councillor had resigned.

The Liberal Democrats saw their number of councillors increase from seven to nine, while the Greens doubled their total from one to two and have now formed their own group on the council, led by Cllr Julie Howell.

Asked about his unanimous re-election as Labour group leader, Cllr Nawaz said: “It shows we are heading in the right direction.

“The agenda last year was housing, education, the local economy and digital footprint. This year we’re looking to build on that and develop those policies even further, and issues like fly-tipping which kept coming up again and again on the doorsteps.

“On the doorsteps people have been very positive about those policies - we will refine and enhance them.”

Fellow Park ward member Cllr Aasiyah Joseph was re-elected as deputy leader, while new member Ikra Yasin (also from Park) was elected as chair.

Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe) will be secretary, Katia Yurgutene (Dogsthorpe) will be treasurer and Samantha Hemraj (East ward) will be group whip.