Opinion: ‘Your vote will shape Peterborough’

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 1:10 pm
Local elections are on May 6
Local elections are on May 6

I have been busy in recent weeks, pounding the streets of Peterborough Some of that has involved running. The rest has been talking to residents.

Next Thursday, you decide who will be in charge of our city. The stakes are high. No political party has a majority at the Town Hall and every vote will count.

It’s always a good idea to think carefully about how you vote. This time, that applies twice over. Your choice won’t just determine who your local councillor will be, because they will then determine which party runs Peterborough.

You probably know how I would like you to vote. It would be unfair to make a political case for the Conservatives in this column. It would leave no time for other parties to respond.

What I can do, however, is relate what you have been saying to me on the doorstep.

- Crime and anti-social behaviour

This came up time and again, but I was particularly struck by what a family in Bretton told me. Although they are pleased that we have extra police officers in Peterborough now, they want to see them cracking down on smaller offences, which really affect their quality of life.

This held true for many residents in Gunthorpe, a surprising number of whom raised the use of e-scooters, which are illegal on our roads and pavements.

A family closer to the city centre said they were fed up of the smell from people smoking drugs.

People are generally excited about the city centre reopening, yet they also raised street drinking as a key problem to address. This echoes my calls for a zero tolerance approach.

- Fly-tipping

No real surprise that fly-tipping was raised repeatedly. People are enraged by others dumping rubbish on street corners and in our open spaces. It enrages me too, as Peterborough Telegraph readers know well.

I have had some success in parts of Millfield. Unfortunately, residents on Bourges Boulevard, in Dogsthorpe Road and around Parnwell tell me that, after a clean up, the problem returns.

Promises of free bulky waste collection have been well received. There was also scepticism about whether it will happen. Like Brexit, the right election outcome can get it done.

- Regeneration

City centre regeneration seems a bit remote for some residents. The centre isn’t where they live. Others recognise an impact from regeneration that ripples out.

A Westwood resident told me that the new university gave her hope for her children and a positive future. Another with children at Thomas Deacon Academy said it meant her children might stay in Peterborough instead of leaving.

The John Lewis closure was a real blow, but it doesn’t change the opportunities coming our way.

Proud of Peterborough and the UK

Whichever part of the city I have been in, whatever the community, one fact holds. People of every background are proud to be living here and proud to be British.

This is symbolised by our fabulous NHS and how our country has succeeded with the vaccine roll out. We are still capable of great things.

Peterborough is capable of great things. We came together as a city and looked after one another. Next Thursday will determine whether, and how, we go forward.