It is with both humility and a sense of pride that I am penning the first of these columns as the leader of the Labour Group on Peterborough Council, whrites cllr Shaz Nawaz.
Via these articles, I hope not only to articulate Labour’s positions on the issues that are facing Peterborough, but also our aspirations for the city.
Peterborough is a city of aspiration; as our MP, Fiona Onasanya, reminded us in her maiden speech, it has a grand history as the burial place of Royalty.
But it is so much more than a place name buried deep within the covers of dusty books.
In the 19th century, it became a transportation hub, and it still is. Peterborough is the home of world-class engineering firms including Perkins Engines.
I am the owner of a successful accounting business; I am conscious of how this city has been an ideal place for nurturing my endeavours.
But: when people think of Peterborough now, is that how they see it? In my roles as a councillor and as a businessman, I speak to many people: small retailers, other business owners, people in tough jobs just getting by. It’s difficult to look at our roads, pockmarked as they are with potholes and stuffed with traffic, and think so.
It’s hard to witness the evidence of fly tipping and believe that our city garners sufficient respect. It’s impossible to look at some of the behaviour we have hitherto seen in the council chamber and think well of our representatives.
It’s the Holy Month of Ramadan; I’m reminded of a verse from the Qur’an, that God will not change the condition of a people until they change themselves (Surah 13, Verse 11) .
I believe we can change, and it is past time that we do; supposedly that which is “tried and tested” becomes out of step with the demands of today.
We in the Labour Party are changing ourselves: among my first acts as leader was to insist that our group adheres to civil behaviour. I am also pleased to say that we have a full shadow cabinet ready to go, so that we can effectively scrutinise the council’s work.
We will unveil a series of purposeful policies that will provide cost-effective answers to Peterborough’s problems including our endemic housing shortage.
We will lead with a new approach that intends to re-establish Peterborough as purposeful and progressive, a place where aspirations can be fostered, nurtured and built.
We also will produce policies that will restore our pride; fly tipping has been an issue for years and the council’s bulky waste collection trial was discontinued. It has become so egregious that a wrecked car lingered in the middle of Bourges Boulevard for over a week.
We need a multifaceted approach that emphasises both enhanced waste disposal as well as tougher enforcement.
There is much to do; but I am confident that the process of change has begun.
Together, I am certain we will be successful.