Andy Monk: Let’s hope for a dose of common sense

Speaker's Corner columnists -  Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
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Well the nightmare has come true. Trump is in the White House. Let the madness begin. Don’t get me wrong, both Clinton and Trump were not good candidates. In fact they have been judged in the US to be the two worst candidates in US Presidential history, with Trump universally acknowledged as being the worst candidate in history. Clinton was the lesser of two evils and had the experience to take office and stabilise the country. Trump has no previous political experience at all, he had never even been elected to a town council before. He is now President of the most powerful nation in the world. A person who degrades and denigrates women, wants to abandon NATO and become isolationist, taking the US back to its pre-Second World War status, and he doesn’t appear to have a single coherent policy on the table. Well good luck to the American people they are going to need it, as are I’m afraid the rest of the world.

Regarding political responsibility, Peterborough city councillors recently voted themselves a whopping 25% pay rise. Do they provide good value for you the people of Peterborough? Are they worth this extra money? Are they providing extra input into the community? I ask these questions because at the same time this pay rise was announced the council decided to increase Council Tax by 4% for the second year running, with another 4% rise slated for 2018/19, too. The pay rise alone for the councillors will cost £186,000 and this is only phase one of the Tory Cabinet’s master plan with councillors voting on this on December 14th. Phase two proposals won’t be revealed until January. Tory central government is constantly cutting local government funding to councils yet the Tory cabinet on Peterborough City Council seem oblivious to this as they seek to reward their financial incompetence by giving themselves a huge pay rise. How many decent hardworking Peterborough residents are rewarded for their toil with no pay rises at all, minimum wages and zero hour contracts? One hopes that on December 14th this is voted down - but I am not hopeful.

Devolution is also on the cards for a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority. A £600m figure of funding for this new authority has been bandied about to be paid over 30 years. This will allegedly be spent on improving the region’s infrastructure, providing housing and improving transport. None of these projects are confirmed though and are just a wish list. If something looks too good to be true it generally is. Devolution will just add another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy taking ever more power away from the people and entrusting it to a new Mayor, whose position will be created by the combined authority. The new Mayor will be elected in May 2017 and will receive a salary of £70,000. They will have the power to increase business rates to further stretch already struggling businesses in our area. The increased costs of running the Mayor’s office and increased red tape and bureaucracy will stifle and constrict real business growth which our local area so desperately needs. So ,challenging times both for everyone who lives and works in the city and now also for the wider world. Let’s hope common sense can once again poke its head above the parapet and entrust people in power to make the right decisions for the ordinary citizen.