Peterborough needs more social housing and fewer developments like Fletton Quays says former Green Party leader

Peterborough needs more social housing and fewer developments like Fletton Quays, according to the former leader of the Green Party.

Friday, 31st May 2019, 7:00 pm

Natalie Bennett said a lack of homes had contributed to the “anger” which led to the UK voting for Brexit in 2016.

Speaking outside the city council’s new offices at the £120 million Fletton Quays development on the South Bank, she told the Peterborough Telegraph: “We are not just saying ‘stop Brexit’, but we are being tough on the causes of Brexit.

“We’re not building the social homes people need. One of the reasons people are so angry is they are fed up with the state of Britain today.

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Joseph Wells and Natalie Bennett at Fletton Quays. Photo: Terry Harris

“This type of development is one not giving everything people need - they’re not affordable or family homes. We’re going in the wrong direction by looking at homes primarily for finance. We’ve been going that way for decades.

“We should be looking at houses as secure homes which people can live in for years and not be worried.”

Fletton Quays, once completed, will see more than 450 apartments built, as well as a new Hilton hotel, whisky and gin distillery, arts centre and retail, restaurant and leisure facilities.

Ms Bennett, who was campaigning alongside Green Party candidate Joseph Wells ahead of Thursday’s by-election in the city, said she wanted to see developers forced to scatter out affordable homes rather than have them crammed together with the worst facilities.

New Green councillor Nicola Day, Joseph Wells and Natalie Bennett at Fletton Quays. Photo: Terry Harris

The council currently funds the development of new social housing through a joint venture alongside Cross Keys Homes called Medesham Homes. But Ms Bennett called for the authority to take advantage of low borrowing rates to do more.

Mr Wells added: “What’s important to remember is Peterborough has one of the highest homeless rates in the east of England. It’s important to prioritise that first.”

The by-election is being held on Thursday, June 6 after Fiona Onasanya became the first MP to be removed by her constituents under a Recall Petition.

The petition was signed by 19,261 of her constituents (27.64 per cent), passing the 10 per cent threshold needed to trigger a by-election.

Speaking about the environment, Ms Bennett said: “It’s an exciting time - there’s a Green wave across Europe. What those climate strikers are doing from a young age is politics - it’s wonderful, exciting and promising.”

She also referenced a recent climate protest by school pupils in Peterborough, saying it was “ridiculous” they were threatened with being fined by an enforcement officer.

Mr Wells said he wanted to see buses which run off fuel produced by human and household waste - which are currently used in cities such as Bristol - and better cycling routes.

He added: “We also have one of the worst rates of fly-tipping.”

As for Brexit, the Greens want to hold a second referendum but also put together citizen assemblies to try and break the political deadlock.

Mr Wells said: “We quote often hear things about the Greens being democracy deniers. We vote through all of our procedures, and if things are going wrong we ask our members ‘are you sure you want to do this?’”

He continued: “I’m the chair of the local People’s Vote campaign. We can’t carry on as we are. The Greens always put forward the case for a reformed EU. The idea we want everything to remain the same is nonsense.”

The Greens have enjoyed recent electoral success, winning a second city council seat and outperforming the Conservatives at the European elections.

Mr Wells added: “People are realising that we are making breakthroughs now and this is a good chance for us to take that to Parliament.”

Ms Bennett said: “We finished ahead of the Tories for the first time ever. Things are very fluid in politics. People are saying vote tactically (in Peterborough) but no one knows how this is going to work out.”