Longest Serving Councillor on How To Run a Council

07:06 Thursday 19th July 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

INDEPENDENT CLLR. CHARLES SWIFT: If they’d announced they were going to build a new home for a kick-off, there would have been none of this kerfuffle whatsoever. It’s all totally unnecessary. What they should have done, if, and there’s a big if attached to this, if Greenwood House and Welland were not fit for purpose, they should have got on with announcing that they were going to build a new home, so that everybody’s got security of tenancy, and also the staff have got some job satisfaction, and they’ve got something to look forward to. It’s been very badly handled, and it’s all wrong.

It’s even reported today that “a decision will be made in three months time by the Cabinet”, ten members of the Council. Not the 57 councillors, ten members of the Council. And bear in mind that when I was first elected on the Council, there was only a workhouse in Peterborough. That was where elderly people went. So I’ve seen all of the 39 complexes built, I’ve seen half of them go down the drain and be pulled down since then. So I know from start to finish, but when I went on the Council, you would have had councillors sitting on a committee visiting these homes when they were built. So there’s no input from the Council. When with great respect the councillor in charge of Adult Social Services says he has never been round an old people’s home, it’s a little bit of a gimmick, isn’t it?

Don’t talk to me about money. There’s tons of money. Let’s be quite frank about it. They chucked three million down the South Bank at the last Council meeting. They spent six or seven million on Peterborough United. We’re asking a developer not far from where I’m living here in Maskew Avenue to put three million for a planning permission, which is corrupt as far as I’m personally concerned. He’s buying a planning. That’s all it is now. You don’t get a planning permission, you buy a planning permission now on what’s called a 106. So he’s putting three million in the kitty which we wouldn’t have had. That would build the old people’s home twice over. And then you’ve got the money, the income from Greenwood House, Welland House when it’s closed. You’ve got capital receipts from the sale of council houses where we’re giving private developers £48,000 every time they build a ruddy house, what’s called affordable. The whole thing has absolutely gone berserk.

The Wirrina site on the Embankment, which is established. You’ve got where B&Q and Matalan was, overlooking the river. These are all sites that we own, so there’s no debt charges on them whatsoever. And you’ve got what I said up at Maskew Avenue there. And you’ve got also the Bluebell land which is in the ward I represent, where the Development Corporation were going to build an old people’s complex there. 30 acres of land that we got for a quid, because I’d bought the railway land in front of it donkeys years ago when it was a ransom strip. I could build one tomorrow. And if I was the Leader of the Council, it would have been up and running now.

Well I think it’s very emotive at this time. There’s nobody said things more than I have in the past, that have been probably taken out of context. I’m not going to enter into it, because to be quite honest about it, I don’t think it was necessary to upset the people that’s running the homes, upset the elderly people. What I’m saying is in the first instance, if it had been handled in a proper and correct manner, we wouldn’t have had all this problem.