Opinion: We will ensure our voices are heard

The first two weeks of November has been an incredibly hectic period, writes ​Conservative Group Deputy Leader Steve Allen.
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From the uplifting work joining our MP, his staff and Cllr colleagues attaching giant poppies to the lampposts throughout my ward of Eye Thorney & Newborough and attending the sobering events in our City to commemorate the Armistice ceremonies over the weekend, to the frankly dispiriting experience of witnessing a number of former Conservative councillors renege on their promises to the people that voted for them in order to take control of the City Council as the so called ‘independents’.

As a democratically elected member of the City Council, and someone who has stood on a Conservative manifesto and serves as a Conservative Councillor, maintaining an unequivocal and undiminished support for the platform on which I was elected, I believe the shenanigans with the political musical chairs recently witnessed will be of great puzzlement and disappointment to many people.

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My view is that those who put themselves forward under the banner of a political party should not then take the duplicitous route of reneging on that position, without taking their case back to the public, for better or for worse.

councillor Steve Allencouncillor Steve Allen
councillor Steve Allen

However, most people expect elected representatives to work together, and I can state the Conservative group will be honouring our obligations in that respect and fully participating with the local democratic process in every way.

We will, when necessary, hold the new administration to account, and as the largest political group on the Council, expect the other opposition parties (an ‘’alliance’’ of Labour, Liberal and Greens) to also fulfil their obligations in that respect.

Difficult decisions must be taken in the best interests of the City and we expect that to continue; however we question whether we will experience a sensible continuation of Conservative policies from the new administration of former Conservative Councillors, or whether their platform will swing in the direction their new masters with the often unnecessarily obstructive challenges, we experienced when in power from the collective on the other side of the chamber.

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We ask how long will it be before the new administration will be forced by the combined forces of Labour, Liberal and Green to make decisions which are diametrically opposed to the principles on which the so-called Peterborough First administration were elected on as Conservatives.

Challenges lie ahead to ensure the Growth agenda, so important to the success of our city is maintained; our Adult Social care and Children’s services recently decoupled from Cambridgeshire achieves a good accreditation at the upcoming Ofsted inspection; and the new Local Plan is delivered in a form that captures the vision for our city we have always put forward.

We will ensure the voice of Conservative Councillors are heard, most certainly taking our responsibilities seriously both on Scrutiny Committees and in the Council Chamber, taking personal ambitions and petty grievances out of the debate.

From my perspective as a ward Councillor and as the Shadow Cabinet Member for Communities I am acutely aware of the concerns the current Localities Asset Review is causing (known as community buildings to most people). Whilst I do believe it’s essential for the Council to review its property estate and assets from time to time, clearly when valued local facilities are threatened this generates concerns in the affected communities.

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A case in point is Eye where the building which hosts both the Library and Youth Club is under threat of disposal. There are of course locations in the city which have community buildings that can be better utilised, repurposed or see facilities combined, but in a village or rural location this is not always possible.

Along with my fellow ward councillors I will be pushing for Eye to continue to have a viable youth club facility. This is a growing community and the provision of Youth Club and a functioning Library is essential and that view must be recognised, with the principle of community needs taken as a mantra throughout the process. On that we will hold the new administration to account.

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