With local elections just around the corner I thought I’d use my column this week to reflect on our community, and how the people of Peterborough deserve better, writes Lisa Forbes, Labour party parliamentary candidate for Peterborough.
Peterborough, depressingly, keeps turning up in the news for the wrong reasons. Just last week we were named the third worst city in the UK for fly-tipping, and the fourth worst in the country for littering. Our schools seem to continuously end up near the bottom of national league tables. And, most worryingly, crime appears to be on a relentless upward rise, with any read of the Peterborough Telegraph containing dozens of stories of horrific assaults and brazen robberies.
As someone who first moved to Peterborough thirty years ago, who chose to build a career and raise a family here, the fact our city’s many fantastic qualities are so often overshadowed by its few, but dramatic flaws is frustrating. In fact, it makes me angry, and it’s this anger that makes me so determined to help change Peterborough for the better.
The truth is, we face some difficult problems. The littering, crime, and school results won’t get better by wishful thinking. They need tackling head on with proper investment, concrete plans, and people held to account for delivering. Sadly, for the last few years, wishful thinking is the best our Conservative Council has offered.
The reason we face such difficulties in Peterborough is clear. Years of slashed funding, misplaced priorities, and gross negligence have left our city much worse off. For example, across Cambridgeshire since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 nearly twenty-seven million pounds has been slashed from our policing budget. Is it any wonder that over roughly the same period crime has shot up, including a rise in violent crime of 84%? Or, take education where two million pounds was cut from our schools between 2010 and 2015, with some schools losing over three hundred pounds per pupil. So why are we surprised that our schools continue to struggle?
Now, you might lay all this at the door of the Government. And it is true that the Tories in Westminster’s obsession with austerity should take half the blame. However, the other half rests squarely with the Conservative Council here in Peterborough who have done nothing to ease the pain, and instead poured more taxpayers’ money down the drain. Instead of investing in preventing crime, improving our schools, and cleaning our streets, fifteen million pounds has been loaned to multi-billion pound hotel chain Hilton. Twenty three million pounds is still missing from a dodgy “investment” with a solar panels company. This is a disgraceful waste of the money we should be putting into our city, into keeping our streets safe, into our children’s future.
When I speak to people in Peterborough, they know something isn’t right with the way our city is being run, and they’re angry about it, I’m angry too. We’re angry that between our Conservative Government, and our Conservative Council, Peterborough has been saddled with significant problems it may take years to fix. That’s why it’s so important we get started tackling these problems now. A vote for Labour in the local elections this May, will be a huge first step towards making Peterborough the city we all know it can be.