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Peterborough local elections

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Peterborough local elections

Peterborough City Council
Type Non-metropolitan district council of the Peterborough
Leader Marco Cereste, Conservative
Since 2009
Deputy Leader Matthew Lee, Conservative
Since 2009
Mayor George Simons, Conservative
Since 2012
Deputy Mayor June Stokes, Conservative
Since 2012
Seats 57
Voting system First past the post (elected in thirds)
Last election 3 May 2012
Meeting place
Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough

The City of Peterborough in the East of England[1] was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1874; from 1888 it fell within the jurisdiction of the Soke of Peterborough county council and from 1965 Huntingdon and Peterborough county council. In 1974 it was replaced by a wholly new non-metropolitan district, broadly corresponding to the Soke, in the new enlarged Cambridgeshire. In 1998 Peterborough became independent of Cambridgeshire county council as a unitary authority, but it continues to form part of that county for ceremonial purposes as defined by the Lieutenancies Act 1997.

The leader and cabinet model of decision-making was adopted by the city council in 2001. The Conservative Party has held control of the council since 2002. The next election will take place in May 2014.


A public enquiry was held in 1873 to determine whether it would be advantageous for the city to be administered by a municipal corporation. The result being in the affirmative, the city council, sometimes archaically called the corporation, was founded by a Charter of Incorporation dated 17 March 1874, under the government of a mayor, six aldermen and 18 councillors.[2] Something of an anomaly, the Parliamentary Boundary Commission of 1868 had decided that the urban parts of Fletton and Woodston were so involved in Peterborough that they ought to be in the borough and added the newly built-up portions of these parishes to the parliamentary constituency. In local matters they were still in Huntingdonshire and, as the City of Peterborough did not extend south of the River Nene, the full title of the new municipality was the City and Borough of Peterborough and its inhabitants, citizens and burgesses.[3]

The new corporation was required to appoint a Watch Committee and constabulary under the provisions of the County and Borough Police Act 1856. In 1946, it amalgamated with the Liberty of Peterborough Constabulary, which had shared its chief constable with Northamptonshire, to form the Peterborough Combined Police Force. This, in turn, merged into Mid-Anglia Constabulary in 1965 and was renamed Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1974.[4] The Fire Brigades Act 1938 made it a requirement for the corporation to maintain a fire brigade; under the Fire Services Act 1947 this function passed to the councils of counties.

In 1927 the city council submitted a memorial to the Minister of Health for permission to extend the borough boundary to include Gunthorpe, Longthorpe, Paston, Walton, Werrington and the area north-east of Fengate; this became effective from 1929.[5] Until this point the council were using the Guildhall and a large number of subsidiary offices, but the need to widen Narrow Bridge Street and the need for a new Town Hall came together in a combined scheme, resulting in the building of the present Town Hall. It was opened in 1933 and accommodated both Peterborough city council and the former Soke of Peterborough county council.[6][7]

Under the Local Government Act 1888, the ancient Soke of Peterborough formed an administrative county in its own right, with boundaries similar, although not identical, to the current unitary authority. Nonetheless, it remained geographically part of Northamptonshire until 1965, when the Soke of Peterborough was merged with Huntingdonshire to form the county of Huntingdon and Peterborough.[8] The municipal borough covered the urban area only; under the Local Government Act 1972, Huntingdon and Peterborough was abolished and the current district created, including the outlying rural areas.[9] However, as a result of intervening development and a new town project, this has a much larger population than the Soke had.[10] Having petitioned for borough status under Section 245 of the Act, letters patent were granted continuing the style of the city over the wider area, which became part of the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire.[11]

In 1998 the Peterborough became autonomous of Cambridgeshire county council as a unitary authority; but it continues to form part of that county for ceremonial purposes.[12] Policing in the city remains the responsibility of Cambridgeshire Constabulary. The police authority comprises 17 members, including nine councillors, of which seven are nominated by Cambridgeshire county council and two are nominated by Peterborough city council.[13] Firefighting remains the responsibility of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. The joint fire authority comprises 17 elected councillors, 13 from Cambridgeshire county council and four from Peterborough city council.[14] Nowadays the Peterborough Volunteer Fire Brigade, one of few of its kind, effectively functions as a retained fire station, responding to calls as directed by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.[15]


The leader and cabinet model of decision-making, adopted by the city council under the Local Government Act 2000, is similar to national government. The council appoints the Leader (usually a member of the group with the political majority) and he or she appoints up to nine other councillors to serve on the cabinet. The cabinet members, one of whom is appointed Deputy Leader, assume responsibility for different key areas of local governance.[16] The full council meets around ten times a year. There are decisions that only full council can make, these include setting budgets and spending programmes, setting council tax levels and approving major policies and priorities. In addition to the Leader of the Council, the council also appoints the Mayor of Peterborough, the Deputy Mayor, committee chairmen and the chief executive. The cabinet and committees report to, and are accountable to, council.

The council's budget for the financial year 2012/13 is £266,106,000 (a 2.8% decrease on 2011/12).[17] The main source of non-school funding is the formula grant, which is paid by government to local authorities based on the services they provide. The remainder, to which the police and fire authorities (and parish council where this exists) set a precept, is raised from council tax and business rates. Following the 2010 Spending Review, the council announced that 11.1% could be cut from departmental budgets to save £65m over a five-year period and up to 181 posts could be lost.[18]

The city council elects a Mayor to serve for a term of one year. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Peterborough, Cllr. June Stokes (Con. Orton Waterville) was elected 127th Mayor of Peterborough on 22 May 2013 and will remain in office until 21 May 2014.[19] The Deputy Mayor is Cllr. Mohammed Nadeem (Con. Central).[20] Although the powers of the Mayor have diminished over time, the role has retained its importance. The Mayor has social and legal precedence in all places within the city unless HM the Queen or her personal representative, a close member of the Royal Family or the Lord Lieutenant is present. The Mayor also has a key democratic role to play, acting as a politically impartial chairman of the council and making sure that proper conduct takes place in the chamber during its meetings.[21] Mayoralty of the unitary authority has been held by the following councillors:

Tenure Incumbent
1998–1999 Mary Beatrice Rainey BEd (Hons)
1999–2000 John Ernest Graham Bartlett
2000–2002 Raymond Arthur Pobgee MBE, DL
2002–2003 Clifford Stanley Horace Sneesby
2003–2004 David Raines
2004–2005 Raja Akhtar
2005 died John Ray Horrell CBE
2006 David Thorpe
2006–2007 Michael Burton OBE, FRIN
2007–2008 Marion Yvonne Todd
2008–2009 Patricia Nash MBE
2009–2010 Irene Walsh
2010–2011 Keith Sharp
2011–2012 Paula Thacker MBE
2012–2013 George Simons

The East of England Regional Assembly was based at Flempton, near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. The assembly was created as a voluntary regional chamber by the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 and the first meeting was held in March 1999. Following criticism of the regional assemblies, it was proposed in 2007 that they would be axed, losing their role by 2010.[22] It has since been replaced by the East of England Local Government Association who have established a Regional Strategy Board to act as Local Authority Leaders' Board under the provisions of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

GO East, the Government Office for the East of England, co-ordinated the functions of national government in the region until 2011. The abolition of the Government Office network was announced in the 2010 Spending Review.

Political control

Political control of the unitary authority has been held by the following groups:

Election Party Seats   +/-  
1997 Labour 25
1999[23] No overall control
Lab largest single party
(25) 0
2000[24][25] No overall control
Con largest single party
(27) +3
2001[26][27] No overall control
Con largest single party
(26) −1
2002[28][29] Conservative 29 +2
2004[30][31] Conservative 33 +9
2006[32][33] Conservative 35 +3
2007[34][35] Conservative 40 +5
2008[36][37] Conservative 43 +3
2010[38][39] Conservative 39 −4
2011[40][41] Conservative 38 −1
2012 Conservative 32 −6

The council comprises 57 councillors who represent the city and surrounding villages. Each councillor typically serves for a four-year term, representing an electoral ward. Wards are divided so that each councillor serves an average of around 2,000 electors.[42]

These are (in alphabetical order): Barnack, Bretton North, Bretton South, Dogsthorpe, Fletton, Glinton and Wittering, Newborough, Northborough, Orton Longueville, Orton Waterville, Orton with Hampton, Park, Paston, Peterborough Central, Peterborough East, Peterborough North, Peterborough West, Ravensthorpe, Stanground Central, Stanground East, Eye and Thorney, Walton, Werrington North, and Werrington South.[43] 15 wards comprise the Peterborough constituency for elections to the House of Commons, while the remaining nine fall within the North West Cambridgeshire constituency.[44]

Each ward elects up to three councillors by the first past the post system of election. Barnack, Bretton South, Newborough, Northborough, and Stanground East each elect one councillor; Eye and Thorney, Glinton and Wittering, North ward, Ravensthorpe, and Walton each elect two. The current composition of the city council, following the 2012 election, is:[45]

Party Seats   +/-   Group
Conservative 32 −6
Labour 11 +5 Labour
Labour Co-operative 1 0
Liberal Democrat 4 +1
Liberal 3 0 Peterborough
Independent Forum
Independent 7 +1
English Democrat 0 −1
Conservative hold

Labour and Co-operative candidates stand on behalf of both the Labour Party and its sister Co-operative Party. The Green Party of England and Wales and United Kingdom Independence Party have also contested elections. In 2010, Peterborough Independents was registered with the Electoral Commission for the "single purpose" of creating, protecting and using a mark or logo.[46]

Gr.Uff. Cllr. Marco Cereste OMRI (Stanground Central) was appointed Leader of the Council in 2009, replacing Cllr. John Peach (Park), former Cabinet Member for Finance and Human Resources, who served in the role from 2006.[47] The Deputy Leader is currently Cllr. Matthew Lee (Fletton), Cabinet Member for Environment Capital and Culture, who replaced Cllr. Stephen Goldspink (East, later English Democrat[48]), former Cabinet Member for Efficiency and Business Improvement.[49]

District elections

One third of the council is elected each year, followed by one year without elections. At the 2008 election, for example, there were 70 candidates contesting 20 seats. In 2007, turnout at the polling stations ranged from 26% in Orton Longueville to 55% in Central ward.[50] At the previous election, voters were required to provide a signature before being issued with a ballot paper.[51] This pilot scheme trialled new procedures which are now included in the Electoral Administration Act 2006.[52]

In April 2008 a former Mayor, Mohammed Choudhary, was convicted for making a false instrument, namely a poll card, in connection with vote-rigging allegations during the 2004 election.[53][54] In May 2008 chief executive, Gillian Beasley, said "People can have confidence in this result because measures that have been put in place have ensured that the vote was carried out within the law." Mrs. Beasley also revealed the city council is to write a report on tackling election fraud, after the Electoral Commission said it could be adopted as best practice. As part of the drive to reduce election fraud, the council sent out blank registration forms, resulting in more than 8,000 people falling off the electoral roll.[55]

Civil parishes do not cover the whole of England and mostly exist in rural areas. They are usually administered by parish councils which have various local responsibilities. Parish councillors, like city councillors, are elected to represent the views of local people. Ailsworth, Bainton, Barnack, Borough Fen, Bretton, Castor, Deeping Gate, Etton, Eye, Glinton, Helpston, Marholm, Maxey, Newborough, Northborough, Orton Longueville, Orton Waterville, Peakirk, St. Martin's Without, Southorpe, Sutton, Thorney, Thornhaugh, Ufford, Upton, Wansford, Wittering, and Wothorpe each have a parish council. Newborough and Borough Fen merged on 1 April 2012. The city council also works closely with Werrington neighbourhood association which operates on a similar basis to a parish council.[56] Parish elections are held simultaneously on the ordinary day of election of councillors for the district.

By-election results

West Ward By-Election: 10 December 2009[57]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Nick Arculus 1,252 58.4 +4.1
Labour John Knowles 341 15.9 +0.9
Liberal Democrat Ginny McDermid 224 10.4 +7.4
style="background-color: ; width: 5px;" | UKIP Frances Fox 177 8.3 +8.3
English Democrats Jane Cage 93 4.3 -20.1
Green Fiona Radic 58 2.7 -0.5
Majority 911 42.5
Turnout 2,145 34.0
Conservative hold Swing
Northborough By-Election: 13 July 2006[58]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Peter Hiller 393 44.6 -16.5
Independent Simon Potter 388 44.0 +18.3
Liberal Democrat Peter Stead-Davis 64 7.3 +7.3
Labour Mark Duckworth 36 4.0 -9.2
Majority 5 0.6
Turnout 881 41.0
Conservative hold Swing
West Ward By-Election: 18 September 2003[59]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Matthew Dalton 1,405 69.5 +1.6
Liberal Democrat Jessica Story 393 19.4 +8.1
Labour Michael Langford 224 11.1 -5.2
Majority 1,012 50.1
Turnout 2,022 33.2
Conservative hold Swing
Walton By-Election: 13 February 2003[60]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrat Christopher Spencer 640 52.8 +1.1
Conservative Brian Hutchinson 355 29.3 +4.5
Labour Mary Rainey 218 18.0 -5.5
Majority 285 23.5
Turnout 1,213 30.5
Liberal Democrat hold Swing
North Bretton By-Election: 22 March 2001[61]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Angus Ellis 805 53.7 -7.4
Conservative Sheila Scott 591 39.5 +0.6
Liberal Democrat Rohan Wilson 102 6.8 +6.8
Majority 214 14.2
Turnout 1,498 26.8
Labour hold Swing

See also


External links

  • Peterborough City Council
  • Local Government Commission for England
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