Opinion: ​Turning the page on Tory chaos

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Thank you to everyone who voted last week. And to those who stood for election, whatever the party, writes Andrew Pakes, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Peterborough.

Our democracy depends on the people who put themselves forward.

As the dust settles on the recent local elections it is clear voters in Peterborough want to turn the page on 14years of Conservative chaos. The next time Peterborough gets to vote it will be in the General Election, whenever Rishi Sunak has the confidence to call it.

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The local election results in the city are a clear message people are demanding change, with Labour and Peterborough First both making big gains as the Conservatives fell to their lowest number of councillors for a generation.

Labour celebrations at last week's countLabour celebrations at last week's count
Labour celebrations at last week's count

I would particularly like to pay tribute to Mayor Nick Sandford who lost his seat after many years. Nick is a decent, hard-working and principled, man. These are the values we all need in politics.

It isn’t surprising that the Conservatives lost seats, is it? From the cost-of-living crisis to exorbitant mortgage rates, from NHS waiting lists to a lack of NHS dentists, nothing seems to be working in Britain anymore. The latest figures show, despite Conservative rhetoric, crime rose in Peterborough last year, yet all the Conservatives can offer Peterborough is more chaos and decline.

It’s time to start fixing Peterborough - together. The next election will be your opportunity to turn the page on 14 years of the Conservatives in Downing Street. Over recent months, I have met with businesses, charities and community groups. Together, they represent the best of Peterborough and the country. And they are crying out for change. I am amazed by the faith groups running foodbanks, Citizens Peterborough campaigning for more affordable housing, and businesses creating decent apprenticeship opportunities for young people. They do incredible work, but we shouldn’t need foodbanks in the first place or have 400 children living in temporary accommodation.

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After 14 years of Conservative mismanagement, they have had their turn. The chaos is a result of a government and party out of ideas and out of time. This year they promised to cut crime (it has gone up on their watch), bring back free bulky waste collections (they axed them), and to deal with fly-tipping (they cut the funding for the council).

We need to get Peterborough back on its feet by working together. No party can do it alone. That is my commitment to Peterborough. To end the nasty, divisive politics that has dominated our city for too long and to start bringing people together.

The Regional Pool, for example, was an act of cultural vandalism that the Conservative administration shut the pool after years of running it down without a plan for a new one. Peterborough is large enough to have and deserves a world-class pool in the city centre. That’s why I’m campaigning alongside community groups for a new 50 metre pool with hydrotherapy and leisure facilities. Over 1,000 people have signed the campaign so far.

I’ve already met the council to say Labour will help find the money. I’ve also met with Labour’s top team in Westminster to help secure the funding we need for our new Energy Transition Centre at ARU (Anglia Ruskin University) Peterborough to ensure that the next government keeps up funding in skills and jobs of the future. We need to take back control of our energy system with more home- grown energy and jobs.

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This was a positive set of election results for Labour and Peterborough. Labour is making progress towards a General Election, but there is more to do. My job is to keep earning that trust. Your trust.