Elections onto Peterborough City Council take place tomorrow (Thursday, May 3) with 18 seats up for grabs.
The Conservatives currently hold 30 of the 60 seats on the council and will be hoping to at least maintain that number so the party can continue to run the authority.
Here, the Peterborough Telegraph has offered leaders of the six council groups - and the Green Party which is putting up candidates in all 18 wards - to write 300 words on why you should vote for them.
Full coverage of the elections will be on www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk from late tomorrow evening and in next week’s PT.
John Holdich - Conservative
Vote Conservative and continue to have a council which listens and responds whilst modifying services to meet your needs and those of our city.
Conservatives will continue to keep your council tax one the lowest in the country; on average, Labour run councils charge £116 per year more.
Conservatives will open and run our own recycling centre to cut the need to fly-tip, whilst pursuing those that do.
Conservatives will build more homes to meet the city’s needs, reduce homelessness and work with other agencies to address the needs of rough sleepers.
Conservatives introduced enforcement teams to reduce littering in the city centre and Millfield and it is our aim to do the same across the city.
Conservatives have, as promised, modified or re-built most of our schools and will continue to do this; in Ofsted terms the majority are Good or better.
Conservatives will look to introduce appropriate speed restrictions in areas where there is community support.
Conservatives will address potholes, the condition of our roads and footpaths and have plans to address verge parking.
Conservatives are working with five other councils on 18 different shared services. We have plans to expand this, whilst maintaining our own policies.
Conservatives have worked with the Combined Authority to obtain funding for homes and roads and to make a city university a reality.
Conservatives, whilst pursuing more and better paid jobs, and training opportunities, haven’t forgotten to enhance the city’s leisure and cultural offering.
The other parties have made lots of uncosted promises; your Conservatives have modernised and maintain your services whilst losing 80% of its government grant and still being funded on 2010 population figures.
We appreciate there is still much to do but please keep your trust in us and we will do our best for you and your city.
John Whitby - UKIP
Isn’t UKIP finished??
To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The report of our death has been grossly exaggerated” and, as people in the areas covered by the existing UKIP councillors will attest, we work very hard on behalf of residents.
Well, the current duopoly hasn’t worked very well has it? Playground insults that are thrown back and forth between the two main players do not make for effective decision making. These parties have many years of history behind them and find it difficult to be truly neutral when making plans or decisions, much of it driven by ideology and not by the real world.
UKIP are different. We have only one ideology, that of doing the best for the people of the UK, and locally, the people of our wards and of Peterborough. We have no left or right paths that we must follow. We approach each issue with an open mind and look at it from a very practical viewpoint. Can it be done? What would the effects be? and is it right for residents and the city?
UKIP are also pragmatic. We won’t look at something and say we must do that, no matter what. We will decide if it is the right thing to do and deliverable, because, if it can’t be delivered and it doesn’t show a benefit then there is no point in proposing it. We’re independently minded and are not whipped to vote a particular way. We work for you.
We want the council run more efficiently, allocating increasingly scarce resources where they’re best suited and supporting communities in delivering locally needed improvements. After all, they’re our communities too! We need to push the government to deliver what’s needed, the finance to provide local services and keep delivery local.
Vote UKIP? Common sense.
Nick Sandford - Liberal Democrat
Do you know who your local councillors are? It’s a sad fact that many Labour and Tory councillors only contact residents in their wards at this time of year when there is an election on. Liberal Democrat councillors are different. We keep in touch all year round through our Focus newsletters and regular residents surveys.
We want to see a different kind of council in Peterborough. A council which is genuinely open and responsive to the views of local people. We would abolish the cabinet system which concentrates power in the hands of just a few Tory councillors and ensure all key decisions are made at public meetings.
The Tories have run Peterborough council for 18 years: you only have to look at the number of defective street lights and the amount of fly-tipping, potholes and bumpy pavements to see they have not done a good job.
We have set out in our local election manifesto a vision for a better, more liberal Peterborough. We would scrap the Tories’ hated brown bin tax, introduce free bulky waste collections, improve public transport and encourage renewable energy and recycling. We want to see precious council funds spent on basic services and not wasted on property speculation, refurbishing the Town Hall and grandiose city centre schemes.
We want police and council enforcement officers to spend more time patrolling our communities and focusing on the crime and anti-social behaviour which can cause misery to local people. We’d invest in effective action to tackle speeding and grass verge and pavement parking.
Our Tory council leadership is arrogant and out of touch and Labour is weak and divided locally. People are telling us its time for change in Peterborough. If you agree go to www.peterboroughlibdems.org.uk, read our manifesto and vote for your local Liberal Democrat candidate.
Ed Murphy - Labour
These elections are a chance to stand up for Peterborough and send a powerful message to this weak and divided Conservative government who have cut our revenue support grant by £40 million to pay for tax cuts for the richest.
Conservative councillors have increased council tax year on year and services have got worse. They have put up council tax by six per cent to pay for their mistakes and their own pay hikes, voting to increase councillors’ allowances by £186,000 whilst cutting your services.
After eight years of Conservative cuts in vital services, failed privatisations and falling living standards, it is time for real change.
In Peterborough we have seen the Conservatives make horrific mistakes such as colluding with a profiteer to evict residents at St Michae’ls Gate, making more local people homeless.
Rhubarb Bridge is an appalling situation where they ignore public opinion and the advice of experts; they lied saying it would have to be demolished and would cost £30 million to replace. In fact, it can be refurbished for a fraction of this sum. They wasted over £3 million on a failed solar farm and they lent £15 million to speculators to build a hotel rather than invest in housing.
Labour has the right policies and the best candidates who are committed to making things better in Peterborough. The BBC recently reported that Labour plans for Peterborough would eradicate homelessness. This would certainly save millions each year wasted on the misery of putting homeless families in hotels when nine per cent of buildings in Peterborough currently lie empty.
Locally, some Conservatives have resorted to nasty politics, being rude to those that challenge including the public council tax payers. They have no manifesto for Peterborough and are yesterday’s men with yesterday ideas.
Stephen Lane - Werrington First
I have lived in Werrington for 34 years and would not wish to be anywhere else. I am so pleased to have done so because of the strength of community within, and the friendship I have enjoyed from everyone.
Fourteen of these years have been as one of three independent councillors for the ward. As a team we are united to seek the best solution to any problem, and our combined experience throughout has enabled us to find the relevant office or local partnership to work with. We have no ambition to hold any position of strength on the council, but instead will lend support to anyone with a good idea for the city, regardless of which party these may come from.
Despite being a political group on the council we do not hold a party whip and always respect each other’s independence and a right to vote independently. We have even voted differently in the Council Chamber, but then united when it came to dealing with Werrington issues. We believe that politics has no place in local government and say that all parties would gain more respect if they could just share their experience and focus their energy to this aim, instead of politicising everything.
Therefore, any Werrington First manifesto or policies would be an unnecessary distraction. Promises borne of political ideology work well at a much higher level than ours, where policy and government legislation sits, but is not within the power nor remit of local councillors. Instead, the only promise we can make is to ask residents about what they feel is important for Werrington. We will listen to those concerns, share them with the council and then together we hope to make things work.
Chris Ash - Liberal Party
We thank the PT for the chance to spread the Liberal word across Peterborough. There is a lot to be done in the city - that is what this election is about.
Local councillors have a very limited voice to influence central government policies. National issues are important, but national party politics are best left out of the council chamber.
We believe that councillors should fight for and represent local people on local issues. Using this election to solve Brexit and refight the Euro referendum continues to split communities and serves no value. We cannot change the result - we do not and should not pretend otherwise.
Our job is to unite local communities not divide them. We should work with them to benefit all local people.
The Liberal Party and its members value independence. We have not joined in any coalitions but are always prepared to work with others on specific issues to benefit Peterborough – if we agree or disagree we will say so.
We expect councillors who fly the Liberal Party banner and share the principles of fellow Liberals to work for the communities they represent. Our councillors are not subject to a party whip and are free to vote on every matter according to their conscience, not the edict of a centralised party machine.
We have never supported the concept of the combined authority mayor – this is an extra layer of expensive bureaucracy. We fear it is a further step in undermining local democracy, removing local government from local people. Sharing services staff and equipment to cut costs is one thing, merging councils is quite another. Services should be tuned to local need.
Independent councillors mean your voice is heard – Liberals work for the community not the party. Please use your vote on Thursday.
Julie Howell - Green Party
The Green Party approach to local elections is to focus, above all else, on community. In Orton Waterville I enjoy a close relationship with residents. They tell me that what matters most to them is local councillors who are visible and who actively engage in work that directly benefits their community all year round.
It’s so clear that people are fed up with distant politicians who only show up when an election is called and who think it okay to ignore the needs of local people the rest of the time. Residents where I live are very wise to laziness and are beginning to take a much stronger and more active interest in the connection between their local councillor and the state of their streets and local services.
Being a Green means caring about every aspect of the local environment where we live. Under the present regime we seem to be expected to tolerate dirty streets, poorly-maintained trees and hedgerows and disappointing local facilities. I don’t tolerate it.
I want an increase in the number of local post offices. I want safe, reliable, affordable buses. I want safer streets and I want parents to feel more confident allowing their children to walk to school. I want a better street cleaning service. I want the council and the community to work together more, with more consultation and more attention given to residents’ opinions. These are the things that residents want too.
Moreover, we all want better communication between one another. If you are an elected councillor and you’re not knocking on residents’ doors every weekend to find out what they need don’t be surprised if your community puts you on notice. It’s time for a return to community politics with councillors who are honestly prepared to put the effort in.