UKIP defector, St Michael's Gate campaigner and ex-Labour parliamentary candidate to contest Peterborough by-election
A defector from UKIP, a campaigner on the St Michael's Gate saga and a former Labour parliamentary candidate have been confirmed as candidates for the by-election in East ward.
Jay Beecher (Conservative), Jelana Stevic (Liberal Democrat) and Matthew Mahabadi (Labour and Co-operative) will all contest the Peterborough City Council seat on June 8.
The by-election was called after the sudden death of sitting Conservative councillor Marcus Sims.
Following Mr Sims’s death, the Conservatives hold 30 of the 59 seats on the council.
The current councillors in East ward are Azher Iqbal (Conservative) and Jo Johnson (Labour).
UKIP and the Green Party have not yet announced their candidates.
Jay Beecher (Conservative)
Mr Beecher, the former deputy chairman of UKIP Peterborough, defected to the Conservatives in October last year.
He was the campaign manager for Ramsey councillor Lisa Duffy when she stood for the UKIP leadership last year and co-ordinated the Vote Leave campaign in Peterborough during the EU referendum.
He has also written a ‘tell-tale’ book about his time in UKIP.
Mr Beecher said: “I hope to carry on the great work of the late councillor Marcus Sims and do what Conservative councillors do best: resolving local issues, standing up and acting as a strong voice for the many residents in East ward, and rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck in.
“We need to bring back community spirit and have pride in the areas we call home. Only a vote for the Conservatives can help make that happen.”
Jelana Stevic (Liberal Democrat)
Ms Stevic is a resident of St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell which hit the news last September when the Peterborough Telegraph exclusively revealed that more than 70 households were being evicted to be replaced by homeless people.
The evictions were carried out by the managing agents for the properties, Stef & Philips, which then agreed a deal with Peterborough City Council for the authority to move in homeless families.
The deal was worth nearly £1 million a year for three years, but the council argued that if it did not sign the contract with Stef & Philips, the housing firm would agree a similar deal with another local authority for it to move its homeless residents into the estate instead.
Ms Stevic was a vocal campaigner against the deal and spoke regularly at meetings as she tried to persuade the Conservative-run council to change its mind.
She said: “I have lived in Peterborough the majority of my life and was born here and lived in the East ward for 20 years.
“I care about the community and its people. As the last few remaining residents leave St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell, I and they cannot feel anything but let down by our Tory-led council and the fiasco way they dealt with the whole unjust situation. Making us homeless to house the homeless.
“There is a real urgent need for social and affordable housing which needs addressing on a larger scale than it is being addressed. This has left me wanting to try and help not just the people in my community and East ward, but the people of Peterborough, and would be proud to represent them.
“Should I be chosen there will be regular newsletters, ward surgeries, and I will be a strong voice at the Town Hall.”
Matthew Mahabadi (Labour and Co-operative)
City resident Mr Mahabadi stood for Labour in South Holland and The Deepings in the 2015 general election, where Conservative John Hayes won the seat.
During last year’s referendum he co-ordinated the Labour IN For Britain campaign in Peterborough, and following the referendum he has been out in the city centre with Open Britain to “bring Remain and Leave voters together in a spirit of compromise and friendship, to heal the wounds of the hard debate and to work together to ensure Peterborough remains an open and tolerant city.”
Mr Mahabadi said: “For far too long voters in East ward and across Peterborough have been ignored, sidelined and mistreated by Conservative councillors and their Liberal hangers-on.
“The shameful betrayal of the residents of St Michael’s Gate is the tip of the iceberg: this is Conservative austerity biting hard, and more cuts are coming soon.
“It’s time we all stood up to say ‘this far, and no further’ – it’s time to turn the tide. This is, to all intents and purposes, a referendum on austerity.
“I am standing as the ‘change candidate’ in East ward to make it, and our city, a great place to live, by reversing austerity and fighting for the investment we deserve. I am standing because East ward, and Peterborough, deserve better.
“I am extremely dedicated, hard-working and professional. I will deliver results and be an effective voice on the council. I will treat residents with sincerity, courtesy and respect.
“I promise to speak up and to fight for more funds and improvements for our streets and services. I will work hard to make East ward and Peterborough a fantastic place to live, with opportunities for all.”