Opinion: ‘Keeping promises made to the voters’

Councillor Shaz Nawaz, Labour Group leader on Peterborough City Council, writes...

Fly-tipped rubbish in Peterborough.
Fly-tipped rubbish in Peterborough.

One of the main campaign promises made by the Conservative administration was to reinstitute free bulky waste collection.

In principle, this policy makes a great deal of sense. We have a fly-tipping issue in our city; it has turned country lanes into rubbish tips, and vacant lots into eyesores.

Charging for bulky waste removal was a short-sighted policy, focused more on making money now than the costs of clearing up fly-tipping sites later.

So what has happened? So far, nothing tangible.

We are still waiting for this policy to be enacted. You would think that this policy would be a no-brainer.

It shouldn’t require that much planning to implement it. Yet here we are, still lingering in this morass of the Conservatives’ own making. The longer we wait, the more fly-tipping will occur. From a cost point of view, this is ruinous. However, one has to wonder if the Conservatives, having been in power for 20 years, believe that time is on their side.

There is a conceit that comes along with complacency.

The Conservative administration has changed leaders, but it is very much a case of meet the new boss, he’s the same as the old boss.

If you shuffle a deck of cards, it doesn’t mean the deck itself is new. Because they have been in power for so long they may believe that a few changes here and there will do. It speaks of their isolation, their remove from the concerns of the people they want to govern.

Peterborough is crying out for change.

The promise to collect bulky waste for free was an indication of how loud this cry was: even an administration as blinkered as this one felt the need to listen. But although they have indicated they have heard, they haven’t actually done anything about it.

This is just one example, one policy: can we honestly say that Peterborough is getting the dynamic policy changes it requires to adapt to a new era? My constituents don’t feel that this is so. Neither do the people who come to Labour Group councillor surgeries.

The problem with an administration that makes promises and doesn’t fulfil them is that it can erode faith in democracy. At least some people voted Conservative because they said: “OK, I’m going to get free bulky waste collection. About time, flytipping makes our city less live-able.”

They ticked the box. The Conservatives were returned. It hasn’t happened. Perhaps they believe they can continue to make promises of this type, the electorate will forget, and they will be returned to office regardless.

There is an old saying involving nappies and politicians, that they need to be changed regularly for similar reasons. We’ve had 20 years of Conservative rule in our city. They’ve taken credit for anything good that happened; they have attempted to shift the blame for anything negative which has occurred.

After 20 years, they own their mistakes. They also own their inaction.

Perhaps they should be less in thrall to themselves and more focused on keeping their promises. Institute free bulky waste collection now, in line with the promise made, long after the mood you said it in has left you.