Opinion: ‘Peterborough is with the people of Ukraine’

Wayne Fitzgerald, city council leader and Conservative group leader on Peterborough City Council writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 14th March 2022, 12:08 pm
Collecting in Peterborough to help Ukrainian refugees. EMN-220103-113000005

Like most people, I continue to be saddened and appalled by the war taking place in the Ukraine and the devastation being caused to the lives of innocent people.

My thoughts are with everyone in the Ukraine and, of course, people in our city who have loved ones and friends caught up in the fighting.At times like these, you also see the very best in humanity and the generosity and support shown by the people of our city, and further afield, has been heartening.

Community groups including the Ukranian church in New Road have been working tirelessly to collect items to send to Ukraine – nappies, medicines, clothes etc – and have been so overwhelmed by the number of donations that they have run out of space!

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We are now supporting them to find alternative locations which could be used to store supplies – if you know of anywhere please let me know.

In addition, there are a number of places where people can make monetary donations – you can visit our website for details.

At last week’s full council meeting, I led a minute’s applause by members to show solidarity for the people of Ukraine. It followed members unanimously backing a motion expressing grave concern at the ongoing situation and pledging to offer whatever support the authority can. The motion supports the actions of the UK Government to resolve the situation through diplomacy and the implementation of strong economic sanctions in response to the invasion.

It also committed to look at ways of strengthening and developing the twinning partnership we have with Vinnytsia in the Ukraine, as well as supporting the city’s residents and the rest of Ukraine.

The council recently sent a letter to the Mayor of Vinnytsia offering support to the city’s residents and officers will work to follow this up.

These are all small ways that we can show solidarity with the people of Ukraine against the terror and suffering being imposed by Putin.

- Last week, we passed the council’s budget for the new financial year, but I was left extremely disappointed with nearly all opposition members of the council who voted against it without presenting any alternatives.

In doing so they continue to put at risk the future of the council which could lead to Government intervention.

If that were to happen, all decision-making powers would be taken away from us as members – the people you have voted to be on the council – which would be disastrous for Peterborough and its residents.

I find it astonishing that councillor Shaz Nawaz, for example, who has criticised the administration for not increasing Council Tax in the past, has come out to say that he would not increase Council Tax at this critical time – it is unfathomable.

As for the other opposition parties, they chose to put party politics before what is best for the council and Peterborough.

However, on a positive note, we have got the budget over the line and we look forward to rebuilding the city and its finances from this point.

- Turning to some good news, you may have seen this week that we’ve announced the name of a new organiser who will be bringing the Great Eastern Run back to our streets this October.

Good Running Events has brought many running events to the East Anglia race calendar including the popular Run Sandringham series and Run4Colour East Anglia.

Councillors Steve Allen and John Howard have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to see the race return and I am delighted we have an organiser working with us which has the experience and contacts to build upon our previous successes and make this the most premium racing event in the country.

Whether as a runner, spectator or local business, we urge everyone in our city to get out and support the return of the Great Eastern Run on October 16.

Entries are now open for the half marathon and 5k fun run.

For more information visit www.greateastern.run

- And finally, in the past week I announced that the Masterplan report for the Embankment will, all being well, be released by the council before March 28.

This will allow all councillors and members of the public to consider and reflect on its contents and we can then make decisions if any options can be taken forward in the future.

I was asked a question about the Masterplan for the Embankment on last week’s Ask the Leader session where I gave a more detailed response.

You can watch it back on the council’s YouTube channel.

There will be no Ask the Leader events now until after the local elections in May as the council enters a pre-election period on March 28 which restricts the council’s communications in the run-up to the election.