Jeremy Corbyn promises Labour 'will invest in housing and not hotels' as he campaigns in Peterborough ahead of council elections
Jeremy Corbyn promised Labour will 'invest in housing and not hotels' as he campaigned in Peterborough ahead of next week's city council elections.
The Labour leader enthused his local party members today (Saturday) and spoke to the media before taking part in a brief canvassing session alongside campaigners in Grange Road, off Mayor's Walk.
A third of the 60 seats on the council are being contested on Thursday. The Conservatives currently hold 31 of the seats with Labour holding 14, although a big swing towards the opposition parties could see them group together to take control of the council.
Mr Corbyn, who posed for photos with party members and even signed the arm of one, took a dig at the council's Conservative administration for loaning £15 million for a new Hilton hotel at the Fletton Quays development.
The 160 room Hilton Garden Inn on Peterborough's South Bank is being built and managed by Propiteer, with the hotel set to open next year. The council expects to make a profit of £500,000 from the deal, but opposition councillors have accused the authority of risking the city's finances at a time of unprecedented monetary pressure.
Campaigning alongside party members and Peterborough parliamentary candidate Lisa Forbes, Mr Corbyn told the Peterborough Telegraph: "The manifesto has been very carefully thought out and well written by the local Labour Party - it concentrates on the environment and on housing, because everybody needs somewhere decent to live.
"The priorities of the council have to be building more council housing, and a Labour council will build 500 new council houses a year which I think is very important and very necessary, but also, it would be a boost towards getting a Labour government that will properly regulate the private renting sector and give security of tenure.
"A Labour council won't be lending money to the Hilton hotel chain, it will instead be investing money in our local community and local people."
Peterborough's housing stock is currently managed by housing association Cross Keys Homes. The council and Cross Keys are currently building social housing through a joint venture company called Medesham Homes.
Labour has made building new council housing one of its key manifesto pledges.
While speaking to the PT Mr Corbyn also hit out at the Government for slashing the city council's funding.
He said: "Financing is a problem - the Tory Government has cut the amount of money given to Peterborough every year by a huge amount. There's £40 million less going to Peterborough. That's going to impact on local taxation and local services.
"A Labour council will obviously do its best to prioritise the needs of the neediest within the community, but it will be a stepping stone towards getting a Labour government that will invest properly in local services."
Mr Corbyn visited one house during his time in Grange Road, where he was welcomed inside by Siema Taj and husband Faisal Masaud who enjoyed a lengthy conversation with the Labour leader before posing for photographs.
Ms Taj, a Labour supporter, praised the support the party has given her family over the years, beginning with her grandfather who was in the army.
Ms Forbes said: "I'm absolutely delighted Jeremy has come to support the local government campaign. We're working very hard to get a Labour council in Peterborough.
"Labour is committed to building 3,000 council houses over the next five years - the figures have been signed off by the lead council officer - and we are committed to dealing with fly-tipping."