EXCLUSIVE: Snap June 4 poll for Wisbech by election that, if Tories win, could see them edge back closer to overall majority on Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr Peter Lagoda.

Cllr Peter Lagoda. - Credit: Archant

Candidates hoping to replace Peter Lagoda as a Cambridgeshire County Council have just over a week to decide if they want to stand.

Cllr Peter Lagoda at Shire Hall, Cambridge.

Cllr Peter Lagoda at Shire Hall, Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

Candidates hoping to replace Peter Lagoda as a Cambridgeshire County Council have just over a week to decide if they want to stand.

In a surprise move it has been confirmed that the by election to replace the former UKIP councillor for Wisbech South will take place on June 4- less than a month after the local and General Election.

But to be on the ballot paper on the day candidates must submit nominations by Thursday May 7 at 4pm – polling day for the General Election!

The snap poll could give Conservatives a fighting chance of moving back to winning overall control of the county council.

Cllr Peter Lagoda.

Cllr Peter Lagoda. - Credit: Archant


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The party confidently expects to win the by election at Whittlesey on May 7 – caused by the resignation of former leader Martin Curtis. That would bring the Tories back up to 32 on the 69 member authority.

However if UKIP lose to the Tories on June 4, that would mean Conservatives would hold 33 seats at Shire Hall – just two short of an overall majority.

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Peter Lagoda, a one time Conservative borough councillor at Kings Lynn, was suspended by UKIP after being found guilty of benefit fraud, quit his Wisbech South seat last week. .

One of his former colleagues told me he was not surprised by the news but disappointed at the timing.

“Peter told me he couldn’t care less about timing,” said the councillor. “He simply said he had had enough.”

The decision will mean voters in Wisbech South will have to go the polls to elect a replacement for the councillor who was part of the UKIP intake of 2013.

Cllr Lagoda, 61, resigned too late for a by election to take place on May 7, the same day as the general and local elections.

Cllr Lagoda, who won his Wisbech seat at the 2013 election, was given a 12 month community service last year and later ordered to repay nearly £2,000.

His wife Maria was found guilty of six counts of failing to notify a change in circumstances for the purposes of obtaining benefit. She was also given a community order and later a separate hearing ordered her to repay £23,000.

She had told Fenland District Council in 2009 that Cllr Lagoda was living at South Beach, Heacham, but was instead living with her, then his girlfriend, now wife, in Frinton Way, Wisbech.

Cllr Lagoda was told he must pay £1,950, also within six months, or spend 30 days in prison.

As a result of his court case, his UKIP membership was not renewed.

Cllr Lagoda was suspended from UKIP and later claimed disappointment that the party has not offered more support.

However a UKIP spokesman insisted that “we cannot have councillors guilty of a benefit fraud”.

Cllr Lagoda told me at the time the time of the offences he had been switching between staying with his ailing father in Bawsey near Kings Lynn and on two or three nights a week with his then fiancé and later wife Maria.

The couple finally tied the knot in December 2012 and now live in Cocketts Drive, Wisbech.

Cllr Lagoda said the council “dropped all fraud charges against myself and my wife: we are not being done for fraud or dishonesty. I pleaded guilty to not informing them of a change in circumstances.

“The moral of the story is clearly that if you are cohabiting, even on occasions, and either partner is on benefits then you can be prosecuted. I would like to thank Fenland Council for dropping the fraud charges.”

He said his wife was disabled suffering from a degenerative spine disease and was riddled with arthritis in both feet and as well as caring for his father he had cared for her too.

His resignation is the latest in an eventful life for the 61 year old former bus driver – and former Conservative councillor for Kings Lynn - who spent nine years with the British Army and three years as a reservist in the Royal Transport Corps.

He did two tours of duty in Northern Ireland, served in Cyprus during the war with Turkey, and also served in Germany where he had, surprisingly, served three years in their merchant navy.

Peter Lagoda was born in Southwell Road, Wisbech, but when his mother left home he left his father behind to be brought up for the next seven or eight years in Germany by his grandmother.

He later returned to Wisbech, went to St Peter’s School and later to Queen’s, but at 14 returned to Germany and enlisted in the merchant navy.

He came back to England and then joined the Royal Corps of Transport at Aldershot.

“I ended my term as chauffeur to the deputy constable of Dover Castle,” he recalled.

On returning to East Anglia he settled in Kings Lynn with his first wife who he had married whilst serving with the British army. The marriage lasted 21 years before they separated and he later married his housekeeper who he had hired to help bring up his two children.

After that marriage ended he was living in Heacham and out of the blue got a message from Maria who had been “my childhood sweetheart. I had named my daughter after her and in truth I had loved her all my life and had always dreamed of being with her. We got together, met, liked each very much, and that was pretty much that”.

Although his health remains poor (he had a heart attack in 2013) he has told colleagues that’s not his reason for quitting.

Cllr Lagoda also got in trouble with his party after an encounter at Wisbech fire station where he is alleged to have made racist remarks; he always insisted they were not and were taken out of context but “I answered honestly about my family and my roots. If I’m asked in future about my family I think I have learnt what to say- nothing.”

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