Peterborough Labour by-election candidate promises burglary victim she will fight for more police and pledges education inquiry

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Peterborough's Labour by-election candidate has promised to fight for more police in the city and to set up an inquiry into the city's poor education results.

Lisa Forbes made the pledges alongside the chairman of a charity who described the pain of seeing his shop broken into, costing the not-for-profit organisation thousands of pounds due to the damage.

Lisa Forbes, Louise Haigh and Shezad Yousaf

Lisa Forbes, Louise Haigh and Shezad Yousaf

Unite 4 Humanity in Broadway was broken into on Friday morning with thieves stealing jewellery.

The charity provides a weekly food bank in the Brewery Tap in Westgate (for which it is looking for further donations) and works to reduce food waste in the city.

Chairman Shezad Yousaf said: "I phoned the police but unfortunately they took longer than anticipated. I called at about 9am and they came I think four hours later. Forensics came and I received a crime reference number.

"I've had past break-ins - two or three times - but nothing has then materialised.

"We have cameras on the street but they are either not working or facing the other way.

"Businesses get broken into all the time and you have to close the shop half the day. There are no police on the streets."

Mr Yousaf, who describes himself as non-political, knows Ms Forbes from her support for the food bank.

The former Labour city councillor for Orton Longueville, who supports working people to access services at Unite the Union, said: "Under this Tory Government we've lost 21,000 police officers from our streets. The cuts are really hurting and it's having an effect on the people of this city.

"People should not be able to do what they want without fear of being caught.

"I believe our police and crime commissioner (Jason Ablewhite) is remote to Peterborough and does not understand what's happening here.

"If I'm elected as our MP I will be fighting to make sure we get fair resources in this city. Under this government all we can do is to campaign for more police locally. What we need is a Labour government which will put more police on the streets.

"We've promised another 10,000."

The by-election on June 6 is being fought after Fiona Onasanya became the first MP to be removed by her constituents under a Recall Petition. The petition was signed by 19,261 of her constituents (27.64 per cent), passing the 10 per cent threshold needed to trigger a by-election.

Ms Forbes, who came second at the 2015 General Election in Peterborough, said on the doorsteps residents are regularly raising the issue of fly-tipping and littering.

Campaigning alongside shadow policing minister Louise Haigh yesterday, she said: "I will be campaigning to hold this Tory council to account to make sure we are doing something about this. Our councillors are having to report this all the time - they need help to make sure it does not happen in the first place."

Another hot topic among residents, she said, was education, with Peterborough coming second bottom three years in a row for its Year 6 SATs results.

An education review was carried in the city in 2017 by Conservative councillor Lynne Ayres, who is now council cabinet member for education.

Ms Forbes, who said she was not aware of the previous review, stated: "Another issue I hear about is from mums as they are concerned about their children's education. Our schools are bumping along at the bottom in terms of attainment. People expect more and they want someone that will stand up and fight for resources that our schools need so our children won't be held back.

"In Peterborough alone on average our schools have lost £500 per pupil in the last five years - that means less teachers and less books.

"I would like to set up an inquiry as to why our schools are not doing well. Their problems here are no different to the problems in other areas but they are doing better in attainment. I would bring headteachers and parents together to try and find what issues there are and improve things."

On the issue of Brexit, which has become the focal point of several candidates' campaigns, Ms Forbes said: "As a democrat I believe we are doing the right thing trying to negotiate a deal with the Government. I think the Government left it two years too late - it should have done this straight away, but we are where we are.

"Brexit split the country, split Peterborough and split families - we need to find a compromise that can bring people back together."

Asked if she would vote for the Prime Minister's deal, she replied: "I would support a deal that protects people's living standards and protects workers' right and environmental standards."

Asked about the break-in at Unite 4 Humanity, a police spokesman said: "Anyone with information regarding this incident should call police on 101 quoting 35/32275/19 or visit www.cambs.police.uk/report. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org."

All of the candidates for the by-election can be viewed here.