Opinion: ‘These are our eight key Peterborough priorities’

Nick Sandford, LibDem group leader on Peterborough City Council, writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 8:38 am
Fighting crime will be a priority.
Fighting crime will be a priority.

In the next few days, Liberal Democrats in Peterborough will be publishing a set of eight key city-wide priorities on which we will be campaigning in the Peterborough City Council elections.

We want to set out clearly how we believe Peterborough could be run differently if Lib Dems control the council or, perhaps more likely, if we hold the balance of power and hence have a decisive say on how the city council will be run going forward.

So what are our priorities?

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1. Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

In our residents surveys, people tell us about their fear of crime and how their lives are blighted by anti-social behaviour, including littering and fly tipping. We want to make sure that police and council enforcement officers work on housing estates across the city and not just in the city centre. We will promote and encourage more local communities to establish Speedwatch and Neighbourhood Watch, and support additional police resources to reduce violent crime and domestic abuse, and assist victims.

2. Tackling the climate emergency: We believe that the whole of Peterborough should reduce its overall carbon use significantly over the next 10 years and be a carbon neutral city before 2045. Despite declaring a climate emergency in Peterborough, the council’s proposals to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment are weak, focussing only on council owned buildings and services and largely ignoring the rest of the city.

3. Give residents a greater say on what happens in their area: The Lib Dems will reform the secretive, cabinet decision making process in the town hall, opting instead for a committee system of decision making, which will be open and transparent to residents, giving councillors of all parties greater influence. Longer term, we will implement mechanisms for area based decision making through more urban parish councils and area committees.

4. Improve our public transport, roads and pavements : The Lib Dems will seek to increase investment in the bus network, working with the combined authority to introduce green public transport to Peterborough such as light rail and/or electric buses. We will invest in our roads and pavements to improve them for all users, encouraging the continued increase of cycling and walking following the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequential improvements to our health of more exercise and reduced pollution.

5. Build affordable housing: The Lib Dems will work to introduce a new strategy which properly supports and rehomes the increasing number of people living on the streets of Peterborough. The Lib Dems will ensure the council meets its target of 30 per cent of all homes built in the city as affordable or social housing, if necessary by establishing a council-owned housing company.

6. Improve education for all: The Lib Dems wish to see inclusive education of our children, we support the phasing out of selective admissions policies based on faith and would aim for all children to be able to attend their local school if they so wish.

7. Tackle social exclusion and improve the care and health of our residents: The Lib Dems will work to make Peterborough an age-friendly city. We will work to tackle barriers to older people living well in our city, tackle social isolation and improve opportunities for older people to play a full and active part in their communities. We will improve support for carers in our city, both paid and unpaid, supporting both through direct financial aid, funding voluntary organisations and providing respite care.

8. Increase efficiency, deliver effective services: The Conservatives seek to portray an image of financial and management competence – but in fact here in Peterborough they have wasted huge amounts of money through bad management and poor decisions. The Lib Dems will invest wisely in services and facilities and ensure that benefits are returned to the council rather than just to private companies or investors.

Due to the financial mess that the Tories, both nationally and locally, have created in our city, our priorities may take longer to deliver than we would wish. We will seek to get our priorities embedded firmly in the corporate strategy of the council and we will see to it that council decisions and budgets reflect those set out in the strategy.

No longer will spending priorities be determined purely by the whims of Tory cabinet members implementing their pet projects around the city.

To find out more about Lib Dem priorities for Peterborough and to read our manifesto, refer to www.peterboroughlibdems.org.uk