Peterborough Conservatives predict a coalition of the willing to rule the city

07:40 Monday 11th May 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: Quite a lot of upsets in general as the results of the General Election came out on Friday, with the Labour Party doing a lot worse than many people thought, the LibDems doing far worse than many people thought. You had Nigel Farage resigning,. You had Nick Clegg resigning. You had Ed Miliband resigning. And then of course Marco Cereste the former Leader of Peterborough City Council lost his council seat. The person likely to step into councillor Cereste’s shoes will be chosen this week. He lost his seat of course in the local elections. Here’s what he said on Friday afternoon.
MARCO CERESTE: Of course I would rather have been the victor, but you know, God’s will is God’s will and that’s what he’s decided. He’s probably got a different path for me to take.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So a new Conservative Leader will now be elected. Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald of Peterborough City Council joins me now to talk more about this. Morning councillor Fitzgerald. .. So what happens next? Because at the moment the Conservative Group and indeed the City Council is without a permanent Leader.
WAYNE FITZGERALD: Indeed. Well it’s rather a boring process really in the sense that the Conservative Group have an election every year for Group officers. That is at our AGM which is actually scheduled for tomorrow evening, where there are normally nominations for Group positions, not only Leader and Deputy Leader but Press Officer, Secretary, things like that. So that will happen tomorrow. There are nominations for those positions in already, and the Group will decide and vote upon who they want to be Leader, Group Leader and indeed Deputy Leader of the Group.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Will you be throwing your hat into the ring? Because you of course kept your seat.
WAYNE FITZGERALD: I can say my name is not in the ring for Group Leader.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Why don’t you fancy it? ‘Cos you’ve been a Cabinet member before. You’ve been a councillor for a long time.
WAYNE FITZGERALD: It’s a thankless task in many cases. I have a busy life. I have a family. I have enough to do, and I’m perfectly happy in the role I do, and I’ve been doing for a number of years. So it’s not for me to be Leader of the Council, Group Leader, at this particular time in my life.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what does it take? What kind of person would you like to see in that role?
WAYNE FITZGERALD: I think somebody with experience, somebody with a breadth of knowledge that can take the Council forward. It’s only a year before we have to do this whole process again as we face all-out elections next year, in 2016, as the boundary changes kick in across Peterborough. So there’ll be quite a bit of change in terms of where people electorally sit. Many people don’t even know they’re moving wards at the moment, so it will come as a bit of a surprise to them. So I think I’m focused on that as the .. I am the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in Peterborough on the political side. So I’ve got enough to focus on personally with that next year, and that’s actually quite a big thing to do. And of course we’ll be going up to sixty councillors from the current fifty seven, so that’s actually quite a task to put all those people in place for next year to be perfectly truthful.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Of course with no one party having a majority on Peterborough City Council, there’s no guarantee that the Leader of the Conservative Group will actually be the Leader of the Council I suppose.
WAYNE FITZGERALD: Correct. Indeed. The two posts are actually different. It’s been taken that the Leader of the largest party might become .. might go on to be Leader of the Council, as happened with Marco and previous Leaders. But generally speaking, I think like in Government for example the Liberal Democrats in the City Council and others generally accept that you know the largest party should have the ruling majority, or basically act as the majority in the Council. But yes indeed it could be voted down. There was a lot of talk about the Queen’s Speech being voted down in a set of circumstances. It’s very very similar. But I expect that with the support of one or two others in opposition parties or Independents perhaps, I can’t speak for them, but that would be the normal case, and we would carry on as the largest majority going forward to the next year.