I’ve been called many things in my time - it goes with the territory of being a politician - but I’ve never been called a whiner.
It was one of the many accusations and simplistic sound bites made by MP Stewart Jackson in his Westminster Life column last week.
If understanding the issues that we face as a city, coming up with solutions and getting on and dealing with those issues is whining, then yes, I’m guilty.
Take our approach to regenerate Fletton Quays - a site that was underutilised for decades. We created Peterborough Investment Partnership, the joint venture between the council and Lucent, which has kick started regeneration of this key city centre site.
Likewise, each year our officers work hard to find ways to keep services running well for residents even though demand continues to rise while the government funding we receive gets less and less. We don’t moan about it, we take time to understand the services that our residents need the most and then work out how we can best provide them with the money available.
We’re not complacent, we, like the vast majority of UK councils, still have big issues that we need to tackle, homelessness and pupil attainment to name just two, but we will continue to tackle these problems by understanding the issues and dealing with them.
For example, we know the city needs more homes. Therefore we have worked with government and other local councils on a £100 million fund to build new homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough if a devolution deal moves forward. We’ve also just entered into a joint venture with Cross Keys Homes to build homes across a variety of sectors in Peterborough, including more social housing.
Just to be clear Mr Jackson, I’m not whining, I’m presenting the facts.
On the subject of facts, a serious accusation of corruption made by the MP in his column about a routine pre-meeting prior to planning committee was completely incorrect. This pre-meet is common practice at councils so that councillors can be updated on matters that have occurred since agendas were published and to discuss the meeting’s running order. No decisions are made in this forum, as stated by Mr Jackson, nor indeed did Councillor Peter Hiller attend this meeting.
It’s this kind of inaccurate mud slinging that we have to leave behind.
For the record, the decision of the planning committee was not based on a flawed and inaccurate report, it was based on planning policy set by the government that he and I support. If he is not happy with the logic that we have to apply to applications such as this, then rather than attack us he should work to make the changes he wants with government.
I believe that the time has come to draw a line in the sand. We cannot be successful if our local MP works against us and continues to make unfounded and widespread criticisms of officers and councillors.
I appreciate he will not support every decision the council makes, how- ever, we must move forward.
Theodore Roosevelt put it perfectly when he said that “the most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people”.
We want to be successful, but we all need to work together to achieve the best we can for our city and our residents, but that has to be from a position of trust and respect to tackle the issues that we face in a calm and considered, yet challenging way.
I’m up for this Mr Jackson, are you?
Best of luck if you’re taking part in this Sunday’s Perkins Great Eastern Run. It’s the biggest race yet with more than 7,000 people taking part in both races.
If you’re not entering the races then please come out and support the runners along the route. The Anna’s Hope fun run starts at 10am and the main race follows at 10.30am from the Embankment. A good vantage point is Cathedral Square, which all the runners will pass through at the very beginning.
The main race takes in many parts of the north of the city so if you’re spectating from where you live please cheer the runners on and don’t forget to share your pictures with us on social media.