07:15 Wednesday 8th May 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[R]ONNIE BARBOUR: The Leader of the City Council in Peterborough has survived a challenge for his position from his own Deputy. Marco Cereste won the vote to be Leader of the Conservative Group last night, beating Matthew Lee. Johnny D. has more for us. Morning to you Johnny. (OB)
JOHN DEVINE: Good morning Ronnie. Yes. Good morning everybody. I’m outside Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street Ronnie, which last night was the scene of another dramatic night in Cambridgeshire politics. Just days after the King of Cambridgeshire Nick Clarke was dethroned in the elections, there was a chance that the Peterborough Leader was going to meet a similar fate Ronnie. Every year the Conservatives in Peterborough have their annual group meeting, and the councillors within that group have the opportunity to stand for certain positions. Last week the current Deputy Matthew Lee shocked us all by announcing he’ll be taking on Marco in the Leadership vote. But in the end the Tory group stood behind their Leader and gave him a huge vote of confidence, voting in favour of him by twenty four votes to eight, which is quite a big margin.
RONNIE BARBOUR: This type of Leadership challenge, has it happened before Johnny?
JOHN DEVINE: Yes it has Ronnie, yes. In fact it’s the exact way that Marco Cereste got the job himself in the first place. Four years ago he challenged the then Leader John Peach, and beat him by just one vote. That fight shows there was an obvious split in the group, half supporting John Peach, and the other behind Marco. That split was still apparent a few years later when Marco was challenged by Wayne Fitzgerald. Marco survived that vote, and Fitzgerald was rewarded with a Cabinet position. The difference with last night’s vote though is the challenger was thought of as one of Marco’s supporters. Matthew Lee was given a highly thought of job within the Cabinet by Marco, and his decision to run was a shock, as was his performance in the vote last night, gaining only eight votes Ronnie.
RONNIE BARBOUR: So what now for Marco Cereste, and what will his critics within the Tory group make of this?
JOHN DEVINE: Well this is a huge shot in the arm for Marco. Many thought this was going to be the moment when he would be topped from his perch, and some members within the group hoped it would be, but Marco’s championed a number of unpopular policies that aren’t reflecting very well on the Tory Party. For instance Ronnie he’s closed care homes, overseen the delays at the London Road stadium, he’s pushed his green energy farm agenda when the farmers of Peterborough have objected to it. All of this has made Marco an unpopular figure, and could have massive repercussions for other Tory councillors at the next election. But for now, Marco is still the head lion in the pride, and still the Don of Peterborough City Council. At least he is for the next twelve months, Ronnie.