Voters are ‘calling for change’

The election count at Sand Martin House
The election count at Sand Martin House
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It was with regret that I learned that Alex Mayer, Labour’s representative from the East of England at European Parliament, had lost her seat, writes Cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.

Alex is a dedicated public servant; I am sure she will find another means to put her skills to good use. I wish her well as she embarks on a new life after public office.

I also would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our new batch of MEPs; although we are from different political parties, I hope that we can work together and focus on helping the people of our region for however long we remain in the European Union.

While the issue of Brexit is being resolved, we should do what we can to leverage the EU’s institutions to our city’s benefit.

I have drawn another lesson from the European election results: they represented a near total inversion of the 2017 General Election. In 2017, voters appeared to favour the two main parties, Labour and the Conservatives; in the EU election, the voters chose other alternatives.

Some commentators are saying that the voters selected between starkly different Brexit policies, whether to remain or go. I think there is a deeper message: there is a frustration about change, and the lack of it. The machinery at Westminster has been bogged down for far too long: Brexit is one issue, but resolving the crisis in our NHS, stopping the rise in crime, and supporting our schools and public services are just as pressing. Voters understandably want a way out of the impasse: they want the institutions for which we all pay so much in taxes to function, and function well.

Here in Peterborough, Labour gained seats during the last local election: our dedicated campaigners deserve a great deal of credit for our success.

However, we also pointed out the need for change, we had a clear set of policies, and stated how we would implement them.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; the Conservative Administration has implemented a series of changes which Labour has proposed, for example, they made housing a separate brief. They created a new portfolio for digital policy. They also said that they want to put in a City of Culture bid for 2029. However, by keeping the same people at the helm, these changes appear to be cosmetic: overall, they don’t understand that the once-solid earth is shifting beneath their feet.

It is my goal as Labour Group leader to ensure that we always listen to those we represent; we’ve inherited the great institution of the street surgery from former councillor John Shearman to help us in understanding the issues that are important to you.

We will also develop our offering on social media to keep in touch. We will continue to expand our range of policies and be clear in communicating them.

We will prepare for the day when we take control, to ensure that the city progresses swiftly and purposefully.