I recently received my council tax bill for the coming year; no doubt you did too. There is an element of “Groundhog Day” about it, writes Cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.
The council levies more tax, we still have potholes in our roads, we still find that rubbish collection hasn’t improved despite being brought in-house, and so on.
Other items leapt out at me: there was a whopping 12 per cent increase in the cost of the Police and Crime Commissioner. I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily feel 12 per cent safer for having this added layer of bureaucracy.
Labour policy is to substantially change this role, so it actually adds efficiency and accountability to how law enforcement is carried out. We simply don’t see the police on the beat that we used to, thanks to overall cuts to law enforcement.
None of these rises address our overall problem: we are still facing into a budget gap of £18 million for the 2020/2021 fiscal year. The council is selling assets: it’s trying to dump its community centres on local groups, the Georgian silver has been put in hock. But it simply isn’t working. We are not run as we should be; we are not prospering as we could.
Government isn’t like business or even football; when a manager of a football team fails to perform, the board meets and dismisses him or her. A replacement is found. If that person doesn’t perform, they’re dismissed too.
Can anyone who lives in this city honestly say that the Conservative administration, if they were subject to a performance review, would have earned a three per cent rise? How many of us in our normal jobs have received such an increase in wages?
We, the people of Peterborough, are the board of directors in this case. In just a few weeks we will have the opportunity to either reward the Conservative administration’s present inadequate performance or show them the door.
I have little doubt that in the coming days, you will hear much about what progress has been made, and how things are as good as they can be, despite a challenging environment.
This is the sedative of low expectations, intended to make you, the electorate, settle for less than what you deserve; we work hard for our wages, the council insists on taking more and more to achieve less and less.
No doubt the Conservative administration will want to say that Labour will make a greater hash of it than they have. Again: this is another soporific, intended to lull the electorate into thinking that as bad as things are, they haven’t the right to expect more. It’s one of the oldest political tricks in the book: to defend one’s maladministration by hinting that anyone else would do worse.
I have campaigned a lot over a number of years; on the doorstep, I have encountered a real appetite for change. We deserve it: vote for it on May 2nd.