I was disappointed to hear that the Conservatives are no longer pursuing negotiations with Ranjith Mahamani in relation to the hydrotherapy pool. This is short-sighted and clearly demonstrates that Conservatives are out of touch with what the people of Peterborough want.
They should do the right thing and help re-open the pool with immediate effect. It’s reassuring that the Liberal Democrats, Green and Peterborough First parties all agree with Labour’s position. We are united in our stance that the pool serves an important purpose and needs to re-open quickly.
l The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has had to answer serious question about his wife’s tax affairs.
As an accountant, I agree that his wife, Ms Murthy, has not broken the law. However, her husband is the chancellor of the exchequer and thus makes the tax rules which have hitherto allowed her to keep so much of her wealth.
Sunak’s wife is classified as a “non-dom”. But what is a non-dom? A non-dom person may have a residence in the UK, be married and often reside with their UK spouse, but pay very little towards the infrastructure and public services which sustain the country. It’s a bit rich for Conservatives to talk about “freeloaders” using the benefits system when this appears to be freeloading in its ultimate form.
So: the chancellor may have broken the ministerial code. Worse, he held a US resident visa (a Green Card) when he took office. Having said this, the British public has a strong sense of fairness. We all make mistakes: it is how we make up for them which shows one’s character. Sunak should have apologised and resigned. Instead, he is hiding behind excuses. And all this is occurring in the teeth of a cost-of-living crisis which Sunak does not know because he neither sees nor feels its impact.
Another hypocrisy: Boris Johnson has said in response to Sunak’s problems: “Keep families out of it”. His MP in Peterborough would benefit by following his leader’s advice: I trust he will stop referring to where my children attend school.
And now we find that both Johnson and Sunak have broken the law and been fined. This is not only a matter of drinks parties taking place while the nation was isolated and mourning, Johnson lied to Parliament. Our system of government only works if Parliament can scrutinise the government, and lying prevents proper scrutiny. It’s time for Johnson and Sunak to go.
l Closer to home, we have elections coming up in May. The Conservatives are making the same old pledges of cleaning up our streets, making our streets safer, and repairing roads and footpaths. As one resident put it to me: “They’ve had 22 years to fix all these problems. Why haven’t they done so?” I couldn’t have put it better myself. We all need to see past their usual tactics of making the same old promises, blaming others, and their tedious whataboutery. They are out of touch with what the people of Peterborough want and have destroyed our council’s finances in the process.
A Labour-run council will focus on bringing services back in-house. Outsourcing and speculative joint ventures are expensive and do not work. Instead, we will deliver our core services through the council. At all times, we will focus on what is good for the city. We always have done: this is evident from St Michael’s Gate, Rhubarb Bridge, St George’s Hydrotherapy pool to mention a few. Our priority will be to run the council efficiently and effectively. That’s what a good council should do. Together, we can do better for Peterborough.