Local Elections 2024: We all need to pull together

​Last week saw the final meeting of the full council of this municipal year, writes Dennis Jones, Labour Group Leader.
Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)
Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)

A ‘light’ agenda in prospect, the highlight being the update from the Improvement Panel telling us how well we had done, how much work needs to be done since they were invited by the previous administration to help us get out of the financial mess, they and their national paymasters had got us into.

It appears that we are cooperating well as eagle eyed readers of my epistle of last week may have noticed. Then all hell broke loose!

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Why? Because the leader of the Conservatives, still bitter that eight of his councillors have left the party and six more, many with years of political nous and experience, are standing down in May meaning his party are highly unlikely to get anywhere close to running the city again anytime soon, is no longer willing to cooperate to improve our city – despite the assertion this was all his idea.

Isn’t it interesting that everything before the current administration took control on 1st November was good in the eyes of the leader and the current MP and has been appalling since?

The city, after 23 years of Conservative control, is falling apart after 23 weeks. With a hotel lying empty owing the city over £15M, money we didn’t need to lend but ask the former leader why they chose to. A

company that owes the city £23m that has gone bankrupt – ask the former leader why.

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Do also ask the former leader why a member of the cabinet of which he was also a member signed a deal that was set to cost us millions until 2031.

Whilst you are about it, ask the former leader why we had to borrow another £40million to buy a property that we initially chose to rent.

Despite this catalogue of errors, that many in his party clearly wanted no part of, he is now unwilling to collaborate unless he is in control thinking he has done nothing wrong. Perhaps ‘he’ hasn’t. Other than failing to recognise that his party has been entirely responsible for the administration of this city for almost a quarter of a century.

The regional pool has been on life support for well over a decade. We heard grandiose plans, not of whether we could afford it but where we wanted to build it in all its munificent splendour. What a top guy he is and what a wonderfully well-run city we were albeit over £500M in debt today. That is an awful lot of ‘munificence’ for a small authority, believe me.

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The former leader resorts to naming names of those responsible. Not him, of course. But like his mate, our current MP, seeks to blame everyone but himself.

All good. Nothing to see here. Move along!

Even when eight members left it was still someone else’s fault. Six more experienced councillors are not standing in May. But it’s not his fault.

Blame his predecessors or people he tells us aren’t good enough for his cabinet.

Our city needs everyone, and I mean everyone, to pull together. Why? Because grandiose spending plans by any party are currently out of the window.

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And because single issue politics by another party, aimed at international events isn’t what Peterborough needs right now; a stable, considerate, collaborative council is. It is the foundation from which we need to rebuild. Without that, all the insults in the world, aimed at all and sundry are not going to help us, our former leader’s party or the city he once felt he served well.

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