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Peterborough City Council

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Peterborough City Council
Marco Cereste,
since 20 May 2024[1]
Dennis Jones,
since 20 May 2024[1]
Matthew Gladstone
since January 2022[2]
Seats60 councillors[3]
Political groups
  Labour (19)
  Peterborough First (14)
  Conservative (11)
  Liberal Democrats (8)
  Greens (4)
  Independent (4)
First past the post (elected in thirds)
Last election
2 May 2024
Next election
7 May 2026
Meeting place
Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HF

Peterborough City Council is the local authority for Peterborough, a local government district with city status in the ceremonial county of Cambridgeshire, England. Peterborough has had a council since 1874, which has been reformed several times. Since 1998 the council has been a unitary authority, being a district council which also performs the functions of a county council. Since 2017 the council has been a member of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The council has been under no overall control since 2019. Following the 2024 election a minority Labour administration formed to run the council. The council meets at Peterborough Town Hall and has its main offices at Sand Martin House on Bittern Way.


Although long-established as a settlement, Peterborough was not an ancient borough. It was made a city in 1541 following the elevation of the former St Peter's Abbey to become Peterborough Cathedral. In the same year it also became a parliamentary borough (constituency), but it had no borough corporation to administer the city itself. As originally constituted, both the city and the constituency covered the township of Peterborough and the extra-parochial area of the Minster Precincts around the cathedral, but did not include the hamlets of Dogsthorpe, Eastfield, Longthorpe, and Newark which made up the rest of the wider ancient parish of Peterborough.[4][5]

In 1790 a body of improvement commissioners was established to provide public services in the city.[6]

The constituency was enlarged in 1832 to include the whole parish of Peterborough.[7] It was extended again in 1868 to include the more built-up parts of the parishes of Fletton and Woodston which lay on the south side of the River Nene in Huntingdonshire, unlike the rest of the constituency north of the river, which at that time was part of Northamptonshire.[8]


Guildhall: Council's meeting place 1874–1933

A public inquiry was held in 1873 into whether Peterborough should be formally incorporated to become a municipal borough, with a council to take over the functions of the commissioners and other local government functions. Supporters of incorporation argued that the whole constituency should be incorporated, but it was held that outlying parts of the parish of Peterborough remained too rural for including in a municipal borough.

On 17 March 1874 a charter of incorporation was issued, incorporating as a borough the central part of the parish of Peterborough, the Minster Precincts, and the parts of Fletton and Woodston that lay within the constituency. The borough was then administered by a body formally called the "mayor, aldermen, citizens, and burgesses of the city and borough of Peterborough", generally known as the corporation. It initially comprised a mayor, six aldermen and 18 councillors.[9][10]

Watch committee[edit]

The new corporation was required to appoint a Watch Committee and a police force under the provisions of the County and Borough Police Act 1856. In 1947, the City of Peterborough Constabulary amalgamated with the Liberty of Peterborough Constabulary, which had shared its chief constable with Northamptonshire until 1931 and Peterborough thereafter, to form the Peterborough Combined Police force. This, in turn, merged into Mid-Anglia Constabulary in 1965 and was renamed Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1974.[11] 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.

Relationship to county councils pre-1974[edit]

Elected county councils were created in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888, taking over administrative functions previously exercised by magistrates at the quarter sessions. The Soke of Peterborough had long held its quarter sessions separately from the rest of Northamptonshire, and so it was made an administrative county with its own county council, whilst remaining part of the geographical county of Northamptonshire for judicial and lieutenancy purposes. The 1888 Act also said that boroughs could no longer straddle county boundaries, and so the parts of the borough south of the River Nene were transferred from Huntingdonshire to the Soke of Peterborough and Northamptonshire.

The Soke of Peterborough was unusually small for an administrative county, and the borough of Peterborough contained the majority of its population; in 1911 the borough had over 75% of the population of the administrative county.[12] The city and county councils developed a close working relationship, notably working together to build a shared headquarters at Peterborough Town Hall, completed in 1933.[13]

In 1965 the Soke of Peterborough was merged with Huntingdonshire to form the new county of Huntingdon and Peterborough.[14]


In 1929 the borough boundaries were enlarged to include Gunthorpe, Longthorpe, Paston, Walton, Werrington and the area north-east of Fengate (the latter area and Longthorpe having been the parts of the old parish of Peterborough excluded from the borough on its creation in 1874).[15] As part of the 1929 reforms the council's formal name was changed to the "mayor, aldermen and citizens of the city of Peterborough" and the corporation thereafter generally became known as the city council.[16][17]

Sunken relief by sculptor Arthur Ayres for Mitchell Engineering Limited at Bridge House, later in use by the city council.[18]

In 1967 Peterborough was designated a new town and plans were drawn up for the city's significant expansion. The designated area for the new town extended beyond the borough, including parts of all the surrounding districts. A development corporation was set up as a separate body from the council to oversee the delivery of the new town.[19]

Post-1974 district[edit]

The modern non-metropolitan district of Peterborough was created in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering the whole area of five former districts and part of a sixth, all of which were abolished at the same time:[20]

The new district was larger than the pre-1965 Soke of Peterborough, which had just comprised the borough of Peterborough and the two rural districts of Barnack and Peterborough. Prior to 1965, the Norman Cross and Old Fletton districts had been in Huntingdonshire, and the Thorney district had been in the Isle of Ely. The new district was named 'Peterborough' after its main settlement.[21]

The new Peterborough district was granted borough status from its creation, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor, continuing Peterborough's series of mayors dating back to 1874.[22] Peterborough's city status was also transferred to the new district, allowing the council to take the name Peterborough City Council.[23]

As part of the same reforms, the county of Huntingdon and Peterborough was abolished, merging with Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely (another short-lived administrative county created in 1965) to form the new non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire. Following the 1974 reforms, Peterborough City Council was therefore a lower-tier authority, with Cambridgeshire County Council providing county-level services.[20]

Unitary authority[edit]

In 1998, Peterborough City Council gained responsibility for county-level services. The way this change was legally implemented was to create a new non-metropolitan county of Peterborough covering the same area as the existing district, but with no separate county council; instead the existing city council took on county functions, making it a unitary authority.[24] Despite having been removed from the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire, the city remains part of the wider ceremonial county of Cambridgeshire for the purposes of lieutenancy and shrievalty.[25]

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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]

A combined authority was established in 2017 covering Peterborough and the rest of Cambridgeshire, called the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. It is led by the directly elected Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.[29]


Peterborough City Council provides both district-level and county-level functions. Parts of the district (generally the rural areas and outer suburbs of Peterborough) are covered by civil parishes, which form a second tier of local government for their areas. Much of the Peterborough urban area is unparished.[30]

Political control[edit]

The council has been under no overall control since 2019. Following the 2024 election, Labour were the largest party and subsequently formed a minority administration.[31][32]

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms took effect has been as follows:[33]

Lower tier non-metropolitan district

Party in control Years
Labour 1974–1976
Conservative 1976–1978
No overall control 1978–1980
Labour 1980–1982
No overall control 1982–1996
Labour 1996–1997
No overall control 1997–1998

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
No overall control 1998–2002
Conservative 2002–2014
No overall control 2014–2016
Conservative 2016–2017
No overall control 2017–2018
Conservative 2018–2018
No overall control 2018–2018
Conservative 2018–2019
No overall control 2019–present


The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Peterborough. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 1998 have been:[34][35]

Councillor Party From To
Cathy Weaver Labour pre-1998 1999
Neville Sanders[36] Conservative 1999 25 Jun 2003
Ben Franklin Conservative 25 Jun 2003 4 Apr 2006
John Peach Conservative 12 Apr 2006 18 May 2009
Marco Cereste Conservative 18 May 2009 10 May 2015
John Holdich Conservative 15 May 2015 9 May 2021
Wayne Fitzgerald Conservative 26 May 2021 1 Nov 2023
Mohammed Farooq Peterborough First 1 Nov 2023 20 May 2024
Dennis Jones Labour 20 May 2024


Following the 2024 election and a subsequent change of allegiance in May 2024, the composition of the council was:[37][38]

Party Councillors
Labour 19
Peterborough First 14
Conservative 11
Liberal Democrats 8
Green 4
Independent 4
Total 60

The next election is due in May 2026.


Since the last boundary changes in 2016, the council has comprised 60 councillors representing 22 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held three years out of every four, with roughly a third of the council elected each time for a four-year term of office. The wards are:[39]


Sand Martin House, Bittern Way, Peterborough, PE2 8TY: Council's main offices since 2018

The improvement commissioners who preceded the city council met at a board room on Westgate. When the council was formed in 1874 it chose to hold its meetings at the city's Guildhall, which had been built in 1671 in the Market Place (renamed Cathedral Square in 1963).[40][41] The council's offices were spread across numerous locations.[42]

The council's desire to widen Narrow Bridge Street and its 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 the city council and the Soke of Peterborough County Council.[13][43]

In 2018 the council moved most of its staff from the Town Hall and other premises to modern facilities at Sand Martin House, a refurbished and extended Victorian railway building at Fletton Quays on the south side of the River Nene.[44] Council meetings continue to be held at the Town Hall.[45]


Arms of the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Peterborough, used from 1874 to 1960.

The city council elects a mayor to serve for a term of one year. The mayor has social and legal precedence in all places within the city unless the monarch or their personal representative, a close member of the Royal Family or the lord lieutenant is present. The mayor also chairs meetings of the council. The mayor is expected to be politically impartial, although they are given an additional casting vote in the event of a tie.[46] The mayors since the council became a unitary authority have been:

  • 1998–1999 Mary Beatrice Rainey
  • 1999–2000 John Ernest Graham Bartlett
  • 2000–2002 Raymond Arthur Pobgee
  • 2002–2003 Clifford Stanley Horace Sneesby
  • 2003–2004 David Raines
  • 2004–2005 Raja Akhtar
  • 2005–2005 John Ray Horrell[a]
  • 2006–2006 David Thorpe
  • 2006–2007 Michael Burton
  • 2007–2008 Marion Yvonne Todd
  • 2008–2009 Patricia Nash
  • 2009–2010 Irene Walsh
  • 2010–2011 Keith Sharp
  • 2011–2012 Paula Thacker
  • 2012–2013 George Simons
  • 2013–2014 June Stokes
  • 2014–2015 David Over
  • 2015–2016 John Peach[47]
  • 2016–2017 David Sanders
  • 2017–2018 John Fox
  • 2018–2019 Chris Ash
  • 2019–2021 Gul Nawaz[48]
  • 2021-2022 Stephen Lane[49]
  • 2022-2023 Alan Dowson
  • 2023-2024 Nick Sandford
  • 2024-2025 Marco Cereste[1]


Coat of arms of Peterborough City Council
Granted 6 September 1960
A mural crown of six towers Gold.
Azure two keys in saltire Or enfiled by a mural crown Argent.
On either side a lion Ermine winged Argent charged on the wing with three estoiles Sable the interior paw resting on a tree trunk fesswise Proper.
Upon this rock[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Died in post.
  1. ^ a b c Jones, Ben New Mayor of Peterborough officially installed Peterborough Telegraph, 21 May 2024
  2. ^ Grinnell, Paul (9 February 2022). "New chief executive confident he can tackle Peterborough City Council's cash woes". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Open Council Data UK - compositions councillors parties wards elections".
  4. ^ Reports from Commissioners on proposed division of Counties and boundaries of Boroughs: Volume II, Part II. 1832. p. 159. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  5. ^ "Peterborough". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  6. ^ "Local Government archives". Cambridgeshire County Council. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  7. ^ Parliamentary Boundaries Act. 1832. p. 353. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  8. ^ "The Boundaries Act 1868". Compendious Abstract of Public General Acts. London: Law Journal Reports. 1868. p. 169. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  9. ^ Incorporation of Peterborough: Report of the enquiry held at the New Hall by Major Donnelly J.S. Clarke, Peterborough, 1873
  10. ^ Tebbs, H. F. (1979). Peterborough: A History. Oleander Press. p. 54. ISBN 9780900891304. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  11. ^ "The Soke of Peterborough and the Liberty Quarter Sessions" [permanent dead link] Commemorating 100 years of service of the Peterborough Police 1857–1957 (pp.6–8) Peterborough Combined Police Force, 23 May 1957
  12. ^ "1921 Census of England and Wales: County Report". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  13. ^ a b The Municipal Buildings Peterborough Standard for Peterborough City Council, 26 October 1933
  14. ^ The Huntingdon and Peterborough Order 1964 (SI 1964/367), see Local Government Commission for England, Report and Proposals for the East Midlands General Review Area (Report No.3), 31 July 1961 and Report and Proposals for the Lincolnshire and East Anglia General Review Area (Report No.9), 7 May 1965
  15. ^ Mellows, William Thomas "Peterborough's Municipal Jubilee: a record of 50 years of Local Government 1874–1924" Peterborough Standard, 1924. See 17 & 18 Geo. V c.xciv ext. (mods.) — Min. of Health Provnl.O.Confn. (Peterborough Extn.) 1928 (c.xix), art.27(1)(a), sch.2 pt.I of O. ss.5–9, 20, 23, 24 appl. — Soke and City of Peterborough 1929 (c.lviii), s.33
  16. ^ "Ministry of Health Provisional Order Confirmation (Peterborough Extension) Act 1928". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  17. ^ "No. 38875". The London Gazette. 31 March 1950. p. 1602.
  18. ^ Briggs, Stephen "New home for iconic Peterborough mural is confirmed" Peterborough Telegraph, 22 March 2018
  19. ^ "No. 44377". The London Gazette. 1 August 1967. p. 8515.
  20. ^ a b "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 28 May 2024
  21. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 3 March 2023
  22. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  23. ^ "No. 46334". The London Gazette. 28 June 1974. p. 7419.
  24. ^ "The Cambridgeshire (City of Peterborough) (Structural, Boundary and Electoral Changes) Order 1996", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1996/1878, retrieved 28 May 2024
  25. ^ "Lieutenancies Act 1997: Schedule 1", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1997 c. 23 (sch. 1), retrieved 29 May 2024
  26. ^ About the Authority Archived 2 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine Cambridgeshire Police Authority. Retrieved 9 December 2007
  27. ^ The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority Archived 8 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. Retrieved 9 December 2007
  28. ^ Walton, Jemma "Meet Peterborough's Volunteer Fire Brigade team" Archived 14 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 26 July 2007
  29. ^ "The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Order 2017", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2017/251, retrieved 28 May 2024
  30. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  31. ^ McMenemy, Rachael; Ahmed, Shariqua (3 May 2024). "Labour becomes biggest party in Peterborough". BBC News. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  32. ^ McMenemy, Rachael; McLeod, Dotty (21 May 2024). "Labour lead council for first time in 25 years". BBC News. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  33. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  34. ^ "Council minutes". Peterborough City Council. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  35. ^ Thornton, Nigel (20 May 2021). "Looking Back: Do you recognise these past Peterborough political leaders?". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 29 May 2024.
  36. ^ "Controversial former Peterborough City Council leader Neville Sanders dies". Peterborough Telegraph. 30 August 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  37. ^ "Local elections 2024: full mayoral and council results for England". The Guardian. 4 May 2024. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  38. ^ Taylor, Joanna (8 May 2024). "'Just a parting of people': Lib Dem councillor resigns from party in Peterborough". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  39. ^ "The Peterborough (Electoral Changes) Order 2015", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2015/1858, retrieved 28 May 2024
  40. ^ Historic England. "Old Guild Hall, Cathedral Square (Grade II*) (1126990)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  41. ^ Thornton, Nigel (13 November 2020). "Looking Back: How Peterborough's Cathedral Square could have been very different". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  42. ^ Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire, Hunts and Northamptonshire. 1885. p. 440. Retrieved 28 May 2024.
  43. ^ Mellows, William Thomas "An outline of the history of Peterborough's public buildings" Peterborough Citizen and Advertiser, 1934
  44. ^ "New era for Peterborough City Council with move to Fletton Quays". Peterborough Today. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  45. ^ "Meetings calendar". Peterborough City Council. Retrieved 27 May 2024.
  46. ^ Mayoralty of Peterborough Peterborough City Council. Retrieved 3 May 2020 includes a complete list of previous incumbents
  47. ^ "Former Conservative council leader is new Mayor of Peterborough" Archived 21 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Peterborough Telegraph, 20 May 2015
  48. ^ "Peterborough's new mayor says prison stint should be forgotten as he prepares to become city's First Citizen". I News, 20 May 2019
  49. ^ "Mayor making minutes, 26 May 2021" (PDF). Peterborough City Council. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  50. ^ "East of England Region". Civic Heraldry of England. Retrieved 9 March 2021.

External links[edit]