Peterborough Conservative candidate insists by-election is between him and Labour as he sets out plan for city

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Peterborough's Conservative candidate for next month's by-election insists the contest is between the Tories and Labour - despite 15 people standing in the constituency.

Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph at a Conservative stall in Bridge Street yesterday, Paul Bristow laid out his vision for Peterborough and pro-Brexit credentials while insisting the by-election remains a two-horse race, despite the emergency of the Brexit Party which is seen as a strong contender by the bookies.

The Conservatives campaigning in Bridge Street

The Conservatives campaigning in Bridge Street

Mr Bristow made reference to the recent local elections which left the Conservatives and Labour with a combined 45 seats out of 60 on the city council, with the Conservatives not suffering a net loss in the Peterborough constituency despite struggling nationally.

He said: "The local elections only the other day showed that it was a two horse race between the Conservatives and Labour, and if you go back 50 years in this constituency it's either been the Conservatives or Labour, and every election has been close.

"Jeremy Corbyn chose the last Labour MP for Peterborough, we can't let him choose them again."

The last Labour MP here was Fiona Onasanya who was expelled by the party the day after she was found unanimously guilty of lying about a speeding ticket which saw her sentenced to three months in prison. This triggered a Recall Petition which required 10 per cent of her constituents to sign it for her to be removed as MP. In the end it was signed by more than 27 per cent of eligible voters, triggering the by-election on June 6.

Mr Bristow, setting our his plan for Peterborough if elected, said: "I've been doing this for six months ever since Fiona was initially sentenced so we are out campaigning, we are out doing our thing. I'm confident but not complacent, and I think we have a great message to tell to the people of Peterborough.

"We have to make Brexit work for Peterborough's hard-working families, securing jobs and investment, but it's more than just about Brexit this election. This is also about solving our problems when it comes to congestion.

"I want to see us improve signals and junctions to get Peterborough moving, I want to see a tough approach to fly-tipping and litter working with the council, with a zero tolerance approach to that issue.

"I want to see us focus on crime - we have had an extra 105 police officers in Cambridgeshire recently. We need to make sure that Peterborough gets its fair deal.

"We need to make sure new housing is built. I live in a new development just behind the former district hospital. I want to see more family homes like that.

"It's also about making sure we have the right leadership in our schools to ensure our children have the best possible start in life.

"Peterborough has got so much potential - it's on the A1 heading north, it's got good train routes. It's a place full of business, jobs and aspiring, hard-working people.

"My vision for Peterborough is bringing jobs and investment into the city. But on a day-to-day basis people want to see us crack down on crime and deal with fly-tipping and littering."

Mr Bristow also insisted he wants to help deliver the longstanding ambition to regenerate the derelict North Westgate site, as well as deliver a better future for the city's market and shops and help bring in the "new businesses of tomorrow" to Peterborough, with a university focusing on digital, engineering and agriculture.

Born in Whittlesey, Peterborough resident Mr Bristow is managing director of communication business PB Consulting. He also fought the seat of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland at the 2010 General Election, coming second behind Labour, while last year he contested a city council seat in Ravensthorpe, falling short by 28 votes.

On the subject of Brexit, which has become the focal point of many candidates at this by-election, in part due to Peterborough backing Leave at the 2016 referendum, Mr Bristow acknowledged that people have become "frustrated" by the issue.

But he said: "I campaigned for Leave, I voted Leave. I don't think anybody in this contest did more to secure a Leave vote in Peterborough and across the country than me. But it's more than about that, it's about choosing a better MP, a new MP, for Peterborough.

"This is about choosing a new MP and it's a choice between Jeremy Corbyn's candidate, who we had last time and let down Peterborough, and me."

Asked how he would vote if he was in Parliament and Theresa May's deal was put before MPs again, he replied: "I would vote for Brexit no matter what. If there's a deal on the table which I like I will vote to deliver Brexit on that deal. If there's no deal I will vote to deliver Brexit."

All of the candidates can be viewed here.