A ‘radical change’ in governing Peterborough

Cllr Nick Sandford at Full Council
Cllr Nick Sandford at Full Council

Peterborough Liberal Democrats are calling for a radical change in the way Peterborough is governed, with residents having a much greater say in what happens in their area, writes leader of the party’s group on Peterborough City Council, Cllr Nick Sandford.

We also want to see measures to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, better protection and enhancement of our environment, and increased investment in housing and public transport.

All of that is in our “Vision for a more Liberal Peterborough”: Our manifesto for the local council elections, which was launched on 2 March. Full details can be found online at www.Peterboroughlibdems.org.uk.

But really... you may be asking....what is the point.... Lib Dems don’t really have any chance of winning do they?

At a national level that may be true, but locally it is far from the case. We are steadily increasing our presence on Peterborough City Council.

For the first time in the history of the Liberal Democrats, we will have a Lib Dem candidate contesting every city council seat that is up for election. So everyone will have the chance to vote Lib Dem if they want to.

The Conservatives have been in power locally for nearly 20 years and many argue it is not healthy in a democracy to have one party in control for so long. If the Tories do lose seats in May, then Liberal Democrat influence could be decisive.

So what do we do in such circumstances? We believe fundamentally that democracy in Peterborough is broken and needs radical surgery to fix it.

The leader and cabinet system concentrates too much power in the hands of a few Tory councillors. They make most decisions in private, and with little real accountability to the public.

We would scrap the cabinet system and have all major decisions taken in public at committees, like they do on Cambridgeshire County Council.

For really local decisions, we would set up area committees where councillors representing a particular part of the city could take decisions in close consultation with local residents and businesses.

Protecting and cherishing our environment is close to the heart of most Liberal Democrats. We need effective action to tackle fly-tipping, restore free bulky waste collections and free collections of garden waste. We need to encourage re-use and recycling and encourage the generation and use of clean, green, renewable energy.

Lib Dem run councils around the country have “got serious” about tackling climate change: we need to do that here too.

We want to invest in improved local bus services, not cut bus subsidies as the Tories have done repeatedly. But more than that, we should insist on having buses (and taxis) which are electric or hybrid powered, so as to cut down on harmful diesel fumes.

Crime and low level anti-social behaviour is blighting communities around Peterborough, and speeding traffic makes it dangerous for our children to play near their homes. We need to get the police and council enforcement teams out of the city centre and into our housing areas.

We will also encourage community self help schemes, such as Neighbourhood Watch and Speedwatch. That is just a flavour of what the Lib Dems could do for Peterborough.

To hear more, or to help us, please contact me at nick.sandford@peterborough.gov.uk or @clrnicksandford on Twitter.