Opinion: Collaboration is alive and well

​How often do we complain about things yet stay in a situation, even if we don’t like it, just because it’s how we do things around here, writes Labour Group leader Dennis Jones?
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The good news is that cross party collaboration is alive and well and living in Dogsthorpe and Park wards.

After a series of high-speed collisions, local councillors, working with PCC Highways contractor, Milestone have agreed plans to introduce traffic calming on the approach to the bend on Elmfield Road by agreeing to install speed cushions on the approach to the bend in each direction. Their purpose is to encourage safe driving to or below the 30mph speed limit on this increasingly busy stretch of road.

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The scheme, funded by PCC along with contributions from the Community Leadership funds from the six councillors representing Park and Dogsthorpe wards, is set to be completed by March 2024.

Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)
Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)

This is a perfect example of cross party working and cooperation between councillors of different political persuasions in Park and Dogsthorpe to address an issue that has caused a great deal of anxiety among those residents affected by reckless driving on Elmfield Road which borders both wards.

I believe this is the way forward both for our wards and for our city. I am proud that we are already leading the way and demonstrating that communication, collaboration, and cooperation can achieve positive results.

It is a great pity that the same collaboration, vision, and leadership wasn’t shown by the previous leader of the council.

The review of community assets being a prime example.

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In July, Conservative Councillors voted to put a complete range of community buildings, libraries, and much-loved facilities on the chopping block, yet refused to let the public know which they were, something opposition councillors argued against.

Now that some of the list is public, residents are rightly concerned, if not angry, both at how they have been treated and by proposals to close some community centres with minimal, if any, consultation. It was truly heartwarming to see the community rallying around Eye Youth Club last Friday morning when Labour Parliamentary candidate, Andrew Pakes, and I went along to a rally following news that it risked the chop.

As a council, we can’t keep on making decisions purely for profit whilst riding roughshod over the communities served by these assets. Thankfully, the new administration, still within its first month, is listening and agreed to look again at the plans started by the Conservatives. Labour wants to see all asset disposals bringing social value to the people of Peterborough.

At a meeting in the Town Hall last week, former leader, Wayne Fitzgerald, called the process, started by his administration back in July ‘untrustworthy’. Wow! Until the new administration took office on 1st November, the officers tasked with conducting the review were doing so at the behest of the former leader and his administration. So, what was clearly ‘trustworthy’ under the Conservatives has suddenly becomes ‘untrustworthy’ under the new administration.

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Where local councillors are demonstrating that collaboration rather than continual confrontation delivers results at ward level and is an object lesson for leaders, locally and nationally. Peterborough has needed more humility from those elected to office – to serve the people who elected them. We need to see stature, dignity, and gravitas from those elected not playing games and indulging in culture wars.

The Labour Group welcomes this fresh approach of the new leadership at Peterborough City Council, demonstrating greater transparency, a willingness to listen and to look at things in a new light.