A nervous Marco Cereste has been elected onto Peterborough City Council, and the controversial former leader has ruled out a return to the top job.
The Conservatives won all three available seats in Hampton Vale, with Mr Cereste coming third with 296 votes, just 38 ahead of fourth place Ewan Cox of Labour.
Mr Cereste will now be up for election again after two years having come behind his colleagues David Seaton and Dave King.
He said: “It’s been a hard five weeks but I’m absolutely delighted to have been elected and be given the opportunity to serve our community once again.
“I’ve always been proud and honoured to serve our community.”
Asked if he had been nervous over the result, Mr Cereste said: “Yes, very. I didn’t think I was going to be elected.”
Mr Cereste was leader of the council for six years before surprisingly losing his seat in Stanground Central last year.
But he said he harbours no ambitions to take over from current council leader John Holdich. He added: “I’m going to do what is needed and what is asked of me.
“[John] is the leader and we have to support him. I’m too old [to be leader].”
While Mr Cereste and MP for North West Cambridgeshire, Shailesh Vara, warmly embraced after the result was announced, there were no such scenes between Mr Cereste and Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson, a fellow Conservative.
The pair were known to not always see eye to eye during the former’s time in charge of the council.
Mr Jackson said: “I trust the decision of the electorate of Hampton Vale. I’m sure he will be a dedicated member of the Conservative group as a backbench councillor.”
Mr Holdich said Mr Cereste was not eligible to stand as leader of the Conservatives until this time next year and that he wasn’t worried about losing his position to him.
He said: “Marco has a lot of experience, a lot of enthusiasm for Peterborough.”