Nick Sandford Reflects

the thinker08:22 Friday 6th May 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Trying to bring you interviews with all the main protagonists this morning in the local elections. in Peterborough. But unfortunately none of them are answering their phones. It was a late night last night, I think, for Marco Cereste, who regained his seat in Stanground Central with an increased majority, and some would say a vindication of what he’s been doing in Peterborough as Council Leader. We’ve been trying to get hold of him this morning. Not picking up. Charlie Swift, re-elected in North ward, heading towards 60 years as a councillor. Not picking his phone up. And it’s goodbye to Graham Murphy, Mark Collins and Yvonne Lowndes. Not picking her phone up. Yes, they’re all in bed this morning. Yes, there’s a common thread. The one man who is picking his phone up and taking it on the chin this morning is Liberal Democrat Nick Sandford, of course the former Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Peterborough. Morning again Nick.
PAUL STAINTON: I won’t keep kicking you while you’re a bit down …
NICK SANDFORD: That’s extremely kind of you.
PAUL STAINTON: .. but the picture is unfolding, isn’t it, right across the country really, of a shocking night for the Liberal Democrats?
NICK SANDFORD: I think “shocking” is taking it a bit too far. We’ve been losing quite a number of council seats across the country, and in the North of England in particular, where the Labour Party is picking up seats, but if you look across the South of England, you can look at Eastleigh, you can look at Portsmouth, you can look at Eastbourne, where we’re actually making some significant progress.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. But in Scotland, your vote’s imploded, hasn’t it?
NICK SANDFORD: Yes. I think what’s happening in Scotland is the Scottish National Party is doing extraordinarily well, and I think people are seeing them as the main alternative that they’re turning to.
PAUL STAINTON: In Peterborough then, no real change for you, but nevertheless very disappointing that you tried to grab Werrington South, but it didn’t work.
NICK SANDFORD: Yes. We were targeting Werrington South because we had a really .. David Hedges is a really popular local candidate, working very hard, and we had an existing councillor in that ward, so we were hoping to take the seat. But I think people vote for a whole range of reasons, and I think because of some of the unpopular decisions that the Government are having to take at a national level, that really had an impact. So unfortunately we weren’t able to take that seat.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you surprised that Labour have done quite so well in Peterborough? They’ve gained four seats. They lost Central ward, which is a big loss for them, but nevertheless a net gain of three.
NICK SANDFORD: I think Labour will obviously be pleased that they have the net gain of three, but I have to say that the Labour Group on the Council, for the last few years, has been not really achieving a great deal. You hardly hear from them. So they’ve actually got a few more councillors. They’ve got some people like Ed Murphy, who I don’t always agree with, but I think he will make a really good councillor. And hopefully .. what we need on Peterborough City Council is some effective opposition to the Conservatives, and up to this point, we’ve been the only party putting that forward.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. It’s hard to be effective though when they’ve got such a majority, isn’t it? Because even though they’ve lost a couple of seats, they’ve still got that big majority. And Marco Cereste really, he’s been vindicated, hasn’t he, by what he’s done as Peterborough City Council Leader. Hasn’t he?
NICK SANDFORD: Well I don’t think vindicated is the word. He had a slight increase in his majority, but he still only has a majority of about 130/140. So given the exposure that he gets, he’s on radio .. you can’t get him on Radio Cambridgeshire this morning, but he’s on extremely frequently. He’s in the Evening Telegraph an awful lot. He gets a lot of publicity.
PAUL STAINTON: Well others are too, including your good self sir, including your good self.
NICK SANDFORD: That’s very kind of you. (THEY LAUGH)
PAUL STAINTON: And a sad note really. Are you surprised that some big names have gone out of the Council? Mark Collins, Graham Murphy, and in particular Yvonne Lowndes.
NICK SANDFORD: I think Yvonne was quite a surprise, because Park ward’s been Conservative for quite a number of years. I understand that the Labour Party had quite a popular local candidate, but certainly Yvonne has been a long-serving councillor, and I think on a personal level it’s quite sad to see her leaving.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Messages of a similar disposition on the show this morning. Thank you for picking the phone up twice now. Nick Sandford, Liberal Democrat. Not a great night for them.