No more personal attacks promises new Labour leader as he aims to take control of Peterborough City Council

The new leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council says he will not make personal attacks on opposition Conservative councillors.

Saturday, 19th May 2018, 8:34 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:35 am
Shaz Nawaz (front, middle). To his right are Richard Ferris and Ed Murphy

Recent council meetings have been overshadowed by taunts and crude gestures but Cllr Shaz Nawaz wants to see that come to an end.

The new Labour leader, who was elected by his fellow councillors to replace Cllr Ed Murphy, said: "Being on opposing sides, we should challenge policies but not criticise people. I will be open to the administration, extending my hand to say let's work together for a better Peterborough.

"Most people I speak to don't like councillors barracking in the Council Chamber. Time can be better spent debating policy."

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Shaz Nawaz (front, middle). To his right are Richard Ferris and Ed Murphy

Cllr Nawaz, the owner of AA Chartered Accountants, wants the message to the public to be that Labour are "credible, relevant and aim to serve the people of Peterborough.

"My clear vision and ambition is to have a Labour controlled council. The way we are going to go about our business in the coming weeks and months will demonstrate to the electorate we are serious and committed to that."

Cllr Nawaz will now sit down with his fellow Labour councillors and decide on the group's agenda.

Although no policies are set in stone, areas to focus on include:

. Greater efficiencies in the city council and combined authority

. Investment and regeneration across the city

. Housing

. The contract for waste, street cleaning and environmental services

. Supporting the new University of Peterborough.

Cllr Nawaz is also determined to produce an alternative budget to the one published by the Conservatives.

He made the same pledge after being elected onto the council last August, but in the end Labour produced a page of amendments to the Tory budget, with Cllr Nawaz admitting that after only six months as a councillor it was too soon for him to produce an alternative budget.He said: "I did say I had the intention of producing an alternative budget. It takes a while and time was short, but this year I'm very clear my intention is to produce a credible, alternative budget. We're going to start work on that sooner rather than later."

As far his opposite number Cllr John Holdich, the Conservative council leader, he acknowledged heavy government cuts to the authority's budget has made it tough to balance the finances.

He added: "I think in fairness John has had a very difficult task, especially with the cuts taking place. Tory cuts are taking place up and down the country causing pain.

"But more could have and should be done. John has done his best but not done enough."

Cllr Murphy said: "As leader I engaged with communities throughout Peterborough, both urban and rural, and was able to challenge the administration, especially on the need to tackle the homeless crisis and obtain funding from the devolution mayor as part of a new housing investment program.

"I challenged the status quo as a popular progressive, democratic, socialist and led Labour to victory at two by-elections and saw us win the Parliamentary seat."