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Wayne Fitzgerald’s bruising attack on John Holdich for ‘backing these traitors but not unexpected knowing the man he is’

‘Difficult decisions had to be made which John Holdich had dodged for years’

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John Holdich will be 80 in July. Has served Peterborough as a councillor for 45 years, and bowed out in 2021 having delayed his retirement, brought about by ill health, to remain city council leader during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Unexpectedly Mr Holdich has been thrust back into the limelight after a brutal attack by the man who succeeded him, Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, who was ousted as city council leader last November.

“I have so far refrained from making any comments about John Holdich’s time on the council and hoped he would just melt away and enjoy his retirement, says Cllr Fitzgerald.

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“I have so far refrained from making any comments about John Holdich’s time on the council and hoped he would just melt away and enjoy his retirement”, says Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald (above). PHOTO: Terry Harris

“I have so far refrained from making any comments about John Holdich’s time on the council and hoped he would just melt away and enjoy his retirement”, says Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald (above). PHOTO: Terry Harris

“But it is worth noting now given his recent press statements that following his leadership stint and at the point I took the reins I inherited a council facing immediate government intervention and a 27 million budget deficit and many other problems that needed tackling.

“You can decide given that legacy whether he was the perfect leader. I can say with some certainty that many around the city thought not. “

The row broke after Mr Holdich gave an interview to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) in which he revealed he had left the Conservative Party and had done so in 2022.

“I’ve not been a member of the Conservative party for nearly three years because I don’t like what’s been going on locally,” he said.

If that wasn’t sufficient to attract Cllr Fitzgerald’s ire, Mr Holdich also told the LDRS he endorsed Neil Boyce, who is standing in his former ward of Glinton and Castor for Peterborough First in city council elections on May 2.

“I believe Mr Boyce will do a good job for my village and the other villages he’s bidding to represent,” said Mr Holdich.

One might have expected Cllr Fitzgerald to bide his time and bite his tongue, especially following a plethora of defections by Conservative councillors that preceded his removal as council leader.

As an aide memoire to those times, Conservative councillors Ray Bisby, Peter Hiller and Brian Rush defected almost immediately after the May elections of 2023, to be followed by Gavin Elsey.

Later, of course, Cllr Mohammed Farooq quit, followed by his son Cllr Saqib Farooq and then Cllr John Howard.

Cllr Fitzgerald, however, remains stoic in his analysis that only he and the Conservatives (what’s left of them) remain capable of running the affairs of Peterborough.

And he claims that “most of the decisions that are now being criticised by Peterborough First and others in the council were in fact taken by him and his close sycophants many now members of Peterborough First.

“The Hilton Hotel deal the leasing of Sand Martin House I could go on.

“It is extremely disappointing for me and others to read he (Mr Holdich) is now backing these traitors but not unexpected knowing the man he is”.

Cllr Fitzgerald wants to put the record straight in that “it was in fact John Holdich that endorsed me as the next Conservative group leader” although to be fair in 2016 Cllr Fitzgerald was “happy at this time to support the re-appointment of John Holdich as group leader of the Peterborough Conservative Group”.

Cllr Fitzgerald said: “Not that I consider myself perfect but in my two and a half years at the helm as the council leader we managed to plot a new course and bring things back on track particularly in financial terms.

“This of course upset a few people as difficult decisions had to be made which Holdich and others in my view had dodged for years.

Opposition councillors met at Peterborough town hall, unwilling to speak on the record but clearly debating the moment when to vote to remove Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald as leader. The photo was dubbed ‘the magnificent 7’ by Cllr Fitzgerald. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Opposition councillors met at Peterborough town hall, unwilling to speak on the record but clearly debating the moment when to vote to remove Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald as leader. The photo was dubbed ‘the magnificent 7’ by Cllr Fitzgerald. In November Cllr Fitzgerald was ousted. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“To say nobody would have left the group if he was in charge is also nonsense as there are many that would have wanted to but would have stayed on regardless to support colleagues.”

He added: “For the record I too have never had to impose a whip either – consensus has been and remains the way in our group.

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“Those that left the Conservative group were not interested in any discussion with me or others and made no attempt to have any before leaving.

“I would say for some of them personal financial gain through obtaining cabinet positions was the aim alongside the sole ambition of one man to be leader of the council has put us in the position we are today.

“This move was of course supported by Labour, The Liberal Democrat’s the Greens and others who just wanted rid of us but did not have the gumption to step up and do it themselves.

“I and my Conservative colleagues remain committed to do all we can to see the city prosper and grow and look after all who live here.”

FACT FILE

Following May 2023 elections, The Tories held 30 seats on the council. Labour now has 14 seats, the Lib Dems eight, Green Party three and there are five independents.

Cllr Mohammed Farooq of Peterborough First became city council leader last November PHOTO: Terry Harris

Today the situation is that: Conservative (23) Labour (14) Peterborough First (8) Liberal Democrats (8) Independent (4) Greens (3)

The following wards are included in the elections taking place on Thursday 2 May 2024:

  • Barnack ward (1 seat)
  • Bretton ward (1 seat)
  • Central ward (1 seat)
  • Dogsthorpe ward (1 seat)
  • East ward (1 seat)
  • Eye, Thorney, Newborough ward (1 seat)
  • Fletton and Stanground ward (1 seat)
  • Fletton and Woodston ward (1 seat)
  • Glinton and Castor ward (1 seat)
  • Gunthorpe ward (1 seat)
  • Hampton Vale ward (1 seat)
  • Hargate and Hempsted ward (1 seat)
  • North ward (1 seat)
  • Orton Longueville ward (1 seat)
  • Orton Waterville ward (1 seat)
  • Park ward (1 seat)
  • Paston and Walton ward (1 seat)
  • Ravensthorpe ward (1 seat)
  • Stanground South ward (1 seat)
  • Werrington ward (2 seats)
  • West ward (1 seat)
  • Wittering ward (1 seat)

 

Allowances (taken from the city council website)

Every City Councillor shall receive an annual allowance of £10,663.

Table of special responsibility allowances Annual sum (£) Leader of the Council (3 x basic allowance) £31,989

Deputy Leader (60% of the Leader’s allowance) £19,193

Cabinet Members (50% of the Leader’s allowance) £15,995

Cabinet Advisors (25% of the Leader’s allowance) £7, 997

Chair of Planning & Environmental Protection Committee (30% of the Leader’s allowance) £9,597

Chair of Licensing Committee (25% of the Leader’s allowance) £7,997

Chair of Audit Committee (if Member) (25% of the Leader’s allowance) £7,997

Chair of Corporate Parenting Committee (25% of the Leader’s allowance) £7,997

Chair of the Constitution and Ethics Committee (10% of the Leader’s allowance) £3,199

Chair of Employment Committee (10% of the Leader’s allowance) £3,199

Chairs of Scrutiny Committees (4 Members) (25% of the Leader’s allowance) £7,997

Leaders of Opposition Groups (To be distributed on a pro-rata basis dependent on the number of members in each group – (25% of Leader’s allowance) (This allowance should not be paid to the leader of any additional groups which have the same political allegiance as one already recognised by the Council.) £7,997

 

 

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