Opinion: ‘Peterborough deserves better than we’re getting’

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

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 3:38 pm
New Ark Farm

New Ark play adventure has been serving the city for decades. It has provided many families with much-needed support and joy. Also, it has notably made a positive difference to many children who have learning difficulties and special needs.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives have cut New Ark’s budget by over £30,000. This has left the organisation in huge financial difficulties.

What’s worse is that Paul Bristow has the audacity to go there and take photos to post on social media without criticising and holding to account his party. He’s used writing letters as another cheap PR stunt. Perhaps he should do what other decent MPs have done – donate his pay increase to a local cause and New Ark would be the ideal place to channel those funds.

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I donated £2,000 earlier this week and have encouraged other businesses to donate a further £2,250.

I am confident more will donate as and when I meet with them to discuss and explain why we must all come together to support New Ark.

- At full council I challenged the administration about the aspiration of being city of culture while closing leisure centres, reducing library opening times, and cutting arts and leisure funding by just under £2m. I’m afraid their actions don’t match their words. Only a Labour-run council will be able to seriously enhance our aspiration to become City of Culture. We owe it to the city to move this forward.

I also had a question on the Embankment which we did not get to ask due to time limitations.

I was pleased to hear that the delayed Masterplan will be finally revealed on March 25. This will then help us move forward on how best to utilise the Embankment for the benefit of the people of Peterborough.

- At full council, the majority of opposition councillors voted against the budget due to the severe cuts in many different areas.

There are a lot of promises in the budget, but it is clear not enough work has been done to identity savings. As an accountant, there was no way I could vote for a budget that was neither detailed nor concrete.

- I also attended the cost-of-living crisis protest on Saturday which despite the rain was well attended.

I was disappointed to see that no Conservatives councillors attended, and Paul Bristow was visibly absent. A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet and it is high time politicians played their part to support them including being visible and vocal on their behalf.

The Conservatives have been in control of our council for over 20 years: they have been in control of central government for over a decade. They own what is happening, and they are culpable for the deterioration in services and our standard of living.

They own the mess they have made of council finances. I know we can do better for Peterborough. That will only happen if people vote for change in May. A Labour-run council will put the people of Peterborough first because we all deserve better.