Opinion: A wise person without values is like a well without a rope
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These much consulted-upon tenets are now amalgamated into six main values: Inclusive, Respect, Integrity, Transparent, Collaborative, and Innovative.
Why do values matter? Well, in today’s divided and uncertain world they demonstrate how our public institutions stand for something more. To me personally, these values are a reminder that we should treat others how we would wish to be treated ourselves and to value others’ contributions to making Peterborough a greater place to live and work. They are the guiding principles through which you make choices and opinions. They are influenced by your beliefs and will help you uphold a higher standard of personal behaviour in both your public and private life.
I know the residents of this city will expect all councillors to practice them and conduct ourselves according to them. Now, we know that politicians don’t always meet these high standards, but they should seek to. And they should acknowledge when they fall short. The whole sorry saga of Downing Street parties, the coverups and the lies has damaged public trust. Too often, it feels like one rule for those at the top, another for the rest of us. After 13 years in government, it feels like the Conservative Party is more concerned about itself than it is the country.
On a local level, discussion around recent planning decisions has become bitter with the Leader of the council demanding the resignation of the chair of our planning committee because he didn’t agree with them. Then there was the resignation of seven Conservative Councillors to become independent with one of them warning of the ‘disgraceful treatment’ in the local group. Even our City Conservative MP was recently warned about his conduct and asked to leave the House of Commons by the Speaker, for his bad behaviour.
After the scandals, chaos and resignations in national and local politics, we need a fresh start. Our values should be at the heart of this. We need to work openly and collaboratively across the council for the good of the city, but that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.
We are told that there is no money left, yet the Leader of the Council has recently appointed a range of new ‘cabinet advisors’; paid handsomely from the taxpayer funded public purse. That’s you by the way.
The recent resignations from the Tory group open the door to a new approach on the council with councillors working together where we can and having honest disagreements where we can’t.
Despite the PR, the council is still in a difficult financial position after years of mismanagement by the Conservatives. And we need to work together to put that right. The numbers of different councillors means that no party has a majority on the council. Experienced, level-headed councillors have resigned from the Conservative Party because they believe in open discussion, not a closed shop.
Peterborough First seems to be a serious group that I’m sure we in the Labour group can work with, because we know the members well and recognise their principled actions and, yes, their values.