FORMER council leader Geoff Petherick failed in a bid to head Weymouth and Portland Borough Council for a second year.

Coun Petherick was defeated in a vote to the chairmanship of the powerful management committee – and effectively the leader of the council – by Mike Goodman, the same man who beat him to head the council’s Conservative group in their annual elections earlier this month.

As already reported in the Echo, Councillor Petherick resigned from the group, the largest on the council, and is now an independent councillor.

He narrowly missed out becoming chairman of the management committee after losing a vote by 4-6 at a special meeting of the council’s committees.

Tactical voting by the Labour group helped Coun Goodman win, it has emerged.

Coun Petherick rejected suggestions he had fallen out with members of the local Tory party.

He said he would continue to serve residents in his Wyke ward and that he probably won’t seek re-election in three years’ time.

Coun Petherick said: “I’ve played four games of golf in the past fortnight, that’s as many as I played in the whole of last year.

“When I lost the leadership to Mike my wife said: ‘Great’ because it means I’ll have more time. I don’t feel bad about it.”

Asked about his resignation from the Conservative group, Coun Petherick said: “I’m not a political animal.

“I’ve not fallen out with anyone. I wish Mike every success.

“I saw an opportunity to relax a bit and I took it.”

Conservatives also won chairmanship of the policy and development committee.

Coun Goodman was unavailable for comment.

The Labour group, which increased its number on the council following local elections, seized chairmanships of the scrutiny and performance, audit, and planning and traffic committees.

In a statement the Labour group said: “Some may have been surprised to see Labour councillors voting for Conservative chairmen and Con-servative councillors voting for Labour chairmen. Voting for Coun Goodman is not a vote of confidence for a Conservative-led council.

“We recognise the mandate that, as the largest group, the Conservatives have to lead the council.

“The alternative nomination was for Coun Petherick, who was until two weeks ago a Conservative, but is now an independent.

“The constitution of the council insists that the committees that hold the ‘checks and balances’ over council decision-making be chaired by a party other than the party which holds chairman of management.

“Had Coun Petherick been successful, we would have had the prospect of, in effect, a Conservative-minded council leader with Conservatives holding the largest votes on management and policy committees, and Conservative chairmen for scrutiny and performance and audit committees.”

The group said the situation would have been ‘disastrous’ for the council constitutionally and for residents.