Peterborough City Council election 2016 – the battle for control

4-way-tug-of-war10:21 Thursday 28th April 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: So we’re a week away from the local elections – who will be in control of your council come May 6th? Today we’re focusing on Peterborough, and who’s going to be in control of that. Will it still be the Conservatives that are running things, and doing it their way? Or will Labour surge through? Perhaps UKIP will grab a load of seats. Or the LibDems will see a resurgence of yellow across the city of Peterborough. Well let’s find out that they all think. We’ve got in the studio Nick Thulbourn from Labour. He’s the Deputy Leader. Morning Nick.
NICK THULBOURN: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: We’ve also got John Holdich, currently the Leader of the Council for the Conservatives. Morning.
JOHN HOLDICH: Morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Sandford is here, the Leader of the LibDems. Good morning.
NICK SANDFORD: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: And also with us (A CHIME GOES OFF) oh .. also with us .. I don’t know what that was .. also with us is John Whitby, who’s a UKIP councillor as well.
JOHN WHITBY: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Welcome to the show. Well let’s start with the man who’s been running the Council then, after Marco’s ousting. John Holdich is with us. A difficult task. You’ve had to do some difficult things, some of which have gone down like a sack of wet fish with the people of Peterborough. Are you going to pay for that at the ballot box?
JOHN HOLDICH: I think the people of Peterborough will realise that this Council’s handled difficult times very well. We’ve made £54 million of reductions that the Government have given us, and taken on a similar amount of extra responsibilities. And we have I think we’ve found a way of doing it without massively cutting services. So yes, I think the people of Peterborough will realise that there’s more jobs in this town, the city centre has been revamped, the schools are being revamped, and I think the people of Peterborough will understand that we’ve done a pretty fair job. I do have to point out to you, although it’s Conservative controlled, Council, we are a minority decision, and we do take decisions together.
PAUL STAINTON: But you are in control of that Council, and you have been. Nick Thulbourn for Labour, disappointing election last time, wasn’t it? You were expecting to get lots and lots more seats on the Council. You were seen as a sort of party that was pulling in all sorts of directions. That didn’t help did it?
NICK THULBOURN: It certainly didn’t. No. We’re now pulling in the same direction.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you really?
NICK THULBOURN: Opportunity is what we’re all about. It’s about the talent in Peterborough. So we believe that we should let the talent fly, and let the people of Peterborough become who they can be. So it’s really all about opportunity. It’s about letting people become who they are capable of becoming.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Sandford for the LibDems. You went backwards at the last election, didn’t you, and your candidate for the General Election really lost his deposit. It’s not been a good story. Are you resurgent? Are you confident you can do better this time around?
NICK SANDFORD: Yes I think we are feeling increasingly confident. We had a bad election in 2015. That was the off-shoot of what had happened during the Coalition. But our party membership locally has increased by 100%. We’ve got active campaigns going on all over Peterborough, people actually tell us that they want to hear from their local councillors all the year round. They don’t want the April shower of leaflets that they tend to receive round about this time of the year.
PAUL STAINTON: It was a bit of a breakthrough wasn’t it at the last election for UKIP John. Four local councillors came forward. That’s great for you, but can you do better than that? Can you be a big player after May 5th?
JOHN WHITBY: I think we certainly can. We’ve got the largest number of candidates up this year that we’ve ever had. If all of them got through actually we would be on par with the rest of the Council combined.
PAUL STAINTON: How many do you think you can get, councillors?
JOHN WHITBY: I think it would be nice if we looked at getting twelve.
PAUL STAINTON: Twelve!
JOHN WHITBY: If we can get twelve in, rather than the current four, then we would hold a very good balance across the Council.
PAUL STAINTON: Who are you attacking, Labour or the Conservatives?
JOHN WHITBY: Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: Both.
JOHN WHITBY: Both.
PAUL STAINTON: Alright. OK. Watch out John. Watch out. You could be in a spot of bother, and the LibDems are resurgent as well. This could be a fascinating election. Let’s go to that Labour claim, that you’re all together now. You’re all pulling in the same direction. What do you stand for in this election? Who is leading the Labour charge, to take control of Peterborough and do it differently?
NICK THULBOURN: Every single Labour candidate is leading the charge. We have at this point in time got the most talented people standing for election across the city from all walks of life.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s your message? What’s your rallying cry Nick?
NICK THULBOURN: Our rallying cry is to have a fairer and a safer Peterborough. Let everybody have advantage.
PAUL STAINTON: What does that mean? What does that mean?
NICK THULBOURN: What does that mean. On the growth agenda with the Peterborough City Council it’s very opportunistic, very narrow. We actually believe that we should actually be giving people the opportunity to become more than what they are. People have the talent here. Our rallying cry is to let that talent fly. Let people become who they are capable of becoming.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s the Conservative rallying cry John? Is it we put council tax up. Vote for us?
JOHN HOLDICH: I think that the electorate understands that as I’ve just said we’ve made £54 million worth of reductions from the Government and taken on those extra responsibilities.
PAUL STAINTON: So vote for us. It could be worse.
JOHN HOLDICH: If I wanted to be political we could have got away without putting the council tax up. But I believe in being honest with the electorate. If we didn’t put it up this year then we’re looking in two years time at an extra £50 million worth of cuts.
PAUL STAINTON: Is that your strapline then? Vote for us, it could be worse if you vote for them.
JOHN HOLDICH: Well absolutely. I think it is. Beware of promises that people are giving you. Aspiration? We all want the aspiration for our young people. The talent is there. We’ve got to expose it.
PAUL STAINTON: And Nick Sandford, would the LibDems have put council tax up?
NICK SANDFORD: We thought there was a case for putting council tax up. I think the thing that people say to us is that they want to see maintenance of the services. The other thing people say to us, they want to see a council that’s more open and accountable. We actually have the cabinet system in Peterborough where John Holdich himself has a massive amount of personal power. And it’s his party that is pursuing this agenda that we should have one person in charge of everything in the whole of Cambridge and Norfolk and Suffolk.
PAUL STAINTON: You think it should be shared out.
NICK SANDFORD: We believe in opening up the Council. We would have a committee system rather than the cabinet system, and make the Council genuinely open and accountable.
PAUL STAINTON: And if you get more councillors you’ll be able to do that.
NICK SANDFORD: That’s one of the things that we will continue to pursue. Yes.
JOHN HOLDICH: Can I just comment on that one?
PAUL STAINTON: Very quickly. Yes.
JOHN HOLDICH: Because if you’re talking there touching on devolution, the Conservative Party in Peterborough does not believe in the devolution deal we’ve (been) offered currently.
PAUL STAINTON: We’ll come to that in a minute if that’s alright. We’ll get to that, because I just want to get John, John Whitby’s view from UKIP. Are you just a party that people can vote for if they’re not happy with John, and they’re not happy with Labour, and they’re a bit disaffected with the LibDems? Are you just the party that people go to because you haven’t really got a policy?
JOHN WHITBY: We’ve got a lot of policies. But what you’ve got to bear in mind is that policies are affected by external influences as well.
PAUL STAINTON: What are your policies in Peterborough then? What are you hoping to achieve?
JOHN WHITBY: What we want to actually look at doing is continuing growth in Peterborough, controlling it rather more than we think it has been in the past, and trying to make sure there’s a good balance between growing and developing the city, and making sure the quality of life for people already in there ..
PAUL STAINTON: But the city’s .. the city’s ..the city’s never grown so much has it?
JOHN WHITBY: That’s part of the problem.
PAUL STAINTON: Oh right. Too much.
JOHN WHITBY: It’s growing too much. And that is having a .. certainly having a negative effect on the quality of life of people, not at the top of the tree, but lower down.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So the city’s growing. The people at the top of the tree are taking the money and the good jobs, and the people at the bottom of the tree are not benefiting. Is that what you’re saying?
JOHN WHITBY: Pretty spot on. Yes. OK.
PAUL STAINTON: I look at services in the city, and many many complaints that the city services have been cut, that various budgets have been cut. And I take on board what you’re saying John about the Government cutting your budget obviously. Is there a better way to do it Nick Thulbourn for Labour?
NICK THULBOURN: Well in my opinion yes, or in the Labour Party opinion yes.
PAUL STAINTON: What is it?
NICK THULBOURN: We actually .. at the moment everything’s short term. There’s no long term plan. So people talk about the big growth agenda and the big growth changes in Peterborough. I’ve been here all my life. The changes in the ’70s were much bigger, had a much bigger impact. And the immigration came from London, from Glasgow, from all over the place. But it was planned. The Labour Party planned it, implemented it, and there was a long term strategy. There is no long term strategy. So for instance on housing, we need a long term strategy on the housing across the board. And at the moment affordable rents are off the agenda, what’s required is not actually being met, and people are just burying their heads in the sand.
PAUL STAINTON: If people are so unhappy though, and want all that and they’re not getting it, why are you not streets ahead in the polls? Why are some people predicting a Labour wipeout in the local elections?
NICK THULBOURN: In Peterborough we’re a strong Labour, moderate Labour Party in Peterborough, and we have a strong opportunity, aspirational goals across the city to actually deliver for the city. So in Peterborough we’re very optimistic, because we’re active on the ground, knocking at people’s doors, solving people’s issues, the Labour Party. And we are getting a great response.
PAUL STAINTON: How do we cope as a city in Peterborough Nick Sandford for the LibDems, how do we cope if the Government comes back and says, look, we’ve got to make more cuts? Your budget’s going to be cut even more. Where do we cut next? What do we do?
NICK SANDFORD: I think probably that seems to be the agenda that the Government is pursuing. They want local authorities to make more and more cuts. We would like to see local authorities being more self-sufficient financially, but I think within Peterborough there’s an issue of prioritisation. We see vast amounts of money spent in the city centre. We see the infamous fountains in Cathedral Square, we see the Long Causeway development. Millions and millions of pounds going in there ..
PAUL STAINTON: It looks quite nice though, doesn’t it?
NICK SANDFORD: Yes it looks nice, but then people don’t reside in the city centre, or not many people do. I go round housing areas in Paston for instance, and you see sofas in the street, you see..
PAUL STAINTON: So this council has looked after the city centre, but it’s not looked after the people where people live. Is that what you’re saying?
NICK SANDFORD: When we go round talking to people, we’ve been talking to loads of people, not just over the last few weeks but over the last twelve months or so, and they say we want investment in the areas where we actually are, not loads of money spent ..
PAUL STAINTON: John Holdich, you’ve left people behind. You’ve looked after the city centre, you’ve spent your money there, you’ve not spent it in Paston. You’ve not done it in Werrington. You’ve not looked after the people of Bretton. You’ve left a right mess. That’s what Nick’s saying.
JOHN HOLDICH: Well he would wouldn’t he? He hasn’t got a responsibility. What Nick says and what both Nicks are actually saying is Government policy in actual fact.
PAUL STAINTON: You can’t do anything about it.
JOHN HOLDICH: No no. Listen. As far as sofas in the streets is concerned, is we’re getting down to the community politics in that way, ..
PAUL STAINTON: We get complaints about that a lot.
JOHN HOLDICH: Yes. We have just put in the new enforcement team. In the first two weeks are here they’ve moved seven cars off the street, they’ve got twenty five people going to court for dumping rubbish and all sorts of things.
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve cut Amey’s budget, haven’t you?
JOHN HOLDICH: No, because .. Amey’s budget has not been cut this year. Neither has ..
PAUL STAINTON: In the past it has been hasn’t it?
JOHN HOLDICH: Well it has, yes. But we all have to take responsibility of some of those cuts. And we’re putting some of it back for this year. That was another reason that the rates have gone up. We are listening to the people, and we do understand. The city centre fountains and money wasn’t City Council money, it was Government grant that we’d got. Look what it’s attracted.
PAUL STAINTON: Not all of it.
OTHERS: Not all of it.
JOHN HOLDICH: I think £2 million of ..
PAUL STAINTON: You could have spent it wherever you wanted.
JOHN HOLDICH: Well you could, but look at the jobs it’s created.
PAUL STAINTON: It could have kept some care homes open. It could have cleaned up Paston, that sort of thing.
JOHN HOLDICH: Sorry, the care homes, you’ve got more and more extra care schemes in this town. When I did a survey when I was doing housing years ago it did show that what we required in Peterborough was extra care schemes. And you’ve got a heck of a lot of extra care schemes.
PAUL STAINTON: Let’s move on to John Whitby for UKIP then. John, you claim to be the party of the people. You’re on the streets. Do you see the vision that John paints, or the vision that Nick Sandford paints?
JOHN WHITBY: Funnily enough, somewhere in the middle. Yes there has been an awful lot of focus on the highlighting areas in the city, and developing the city. But round the outside people do feel that they’ve been left behind. And certainly in the areas where I go, yes, people walk around saying it would be so much nicer, a much more pleasant place to live. But that goes back to what I was saying about the quality of life. Quality of life of the people in this city is absolutely crucial. And if you develop the city and don’t look after the quality of life of the people who live there, then you’re on a downward slope. You’ll get a lot of visitors come to the city which is nice. It brings money in. And the city centre is a nice place to come to. But when you go back home and you’ve got rutted streets and your pavements are not very good and the whole area looks tatty, and yes you’ve got dumping in the corners, it doesn’t help people feel like they belong.
PAUL STAINTON: You know what’s going to change all that, don’t you? A mayor for the East of England. That’s what’s going to change all that.
JOHN WHIBY: Oh you have got to be joking.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Thulbourn for Labour. This devolution deal that John appears to have signed up for and not signed up for possibly not maybe. Labour Party? Are you happy to have a mayor of the East? Are you happy to take this money and sign up to this deal the Government’s forced upon councils?
NICK THULBOURN: The deal at present is a poor deal. (To give you) some idea. The West Country deal is worth £8.50 per head. This deal is worth £3.50 per head.
PAUL STAINTON: A bag of chips.
NICK THULBOURN: So there’s a huge difference in what’s actually being delivered. Its practical on the ground practicality is that we’re going to devolve powers from central government, and this deal is not anywhere near good enough. It’s a wrong geography, and it’s the wrong deal. So devolution, yes. It’s part of the Labour Party tradition from its earliest start. One of its main priorities was to create devolution. But the mayoral side of things and the geography is not up to scratch at the moment. So no, we don’t support that.
PAUL STAINTON: Can we just confirm John what you have signed up for.
JOHN HOLDICH: I signed to .. and it’s quite clear what I’ve signed to ..and all the Leaders gave me permission to do it .. was I signed up to take it out to consultation. And you know that’s what I wanted to do. Nick’s absolutely right. Both Nicks are right. It’s not a deal that Peterborough would sign up to permanently.
PAUL STAINTON: The Leader of East Cambs was on this show yesterday saying he’s happy to go with it all the way and go to Norfolk, Suffolk and say goodbye to Peterborough.
JOHN HOLDICH: If you look at the deals on the table, East Cambs have got more to gain out of that than anywhere, whether it’s the rail links or the transport links around there.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So they’re being a bit selfish.
JOHN HOLDICH: Yes, but we’ve got to look at it. What I didn’t want to do, and I think the motion that went through Council leaves every door open .. if it gets imposed on us, and Peterborough’s not in it ..
PAUL STAINTON: So you’ve signed up to talking.
JOHN HOLDICH: .. and talking about it. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And there will be coming out, and it can’t come out before the election, the Council I think agrees that we should go on a Cambridgeshire one plus those trying to get in, people around us.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Lewis Herbert was talking about it yesterday. There’ll be Norfolk and Suffolk one way, Cambridgshire and Peterborough will be a unitary authority but not in name.
JOHN HOLDICH: But we want to go North as well, to South Kesteven and places like that. But we can do a lot of that. We’ve been talking for eighteen months to the councils around Peterborough about an economic drive. We need that skills money to make it happen and make it relevant to what the business in Peterborough is.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Sandford, when John said all the Leaders have given permission you sort of scoffed.
NICK SANDFORD: Well I think that’s not quite true. I want to start by saying that we as Liberal Democrats believe in decentralisation and devolution of power. That’s at the very core of the heart of what we believe in. But what’s been proposed is not devolution, it’s not decentralisation of power, it’s concentration of power in the hands of a single person.
PAUL STAINTON: Another layer of Government basically.
NICK SANDFORD: Another layer of government, who would be in charge of the whole of East Anglia and Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. I just have to pick up one thing that John said, because he’s saying, you know, I’ve not agreed to this, I’ve only signed up to negotiate. I proposed, the Liberal Democrats proposed a motion at Full Council saying that we reject the devolution deal in its current form. The Conservatives voted against it, and the motion was defeated by one single vote, and it was the Conservatives and their supporters in the Independents who’ve actually had it thrown out. So that’s dealing with facts.
PAUL STAINTON: We’re effectively going to have then, if you get your way John, we’re effectively going to have a sort of unitary authority, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, without joining up. But you’ll be doing everything together. Is that a good thing, John Whitby for UKIP, for Peterborough?
JOHN WHITBY: I think ..
PAUL STAINTON: Last time Peterborough were part of Cambridgeshire they got a bit of a raw deal.
JOHN WHITBY: No I don’t think it is. I think one of the advantages of Peterborough as it stands at the moment is that it can be selfish, it can look at the things that are coming on and say this is right for us and try and grab it. And I think if you’re part of a much larger group, then you always suffer. But if you look at it, it’s as you said Paul ..
PAUL STAINTON: Do you? We’ve done well in Europe, haven’t we?
JOHN WHITBY: Yes. Er. No we haven’t. But if you look at that Paul, you said the very words that I was thinking a moment ago, which is it’s another layer of government. And if you look at it at the moment, you’ve got local council, you’ve then got this central devolution and a regional council, you’ve then got the national government, you’ve then got European level. How many layers of politicians do we want interfering in our lives?
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Thulbourn, you like a bit of devolution don’t you? This is devolution right there, isn’t it?
NICK THULBOURN: Devolution is a core of the Labour Party. Has been since the 1800s.
PAUL STAINTON: This ain’t it though, is it?
NICK THULBOURN: This is not it. But devolution one, has to be right. What people need to understand that the devo two three four five six seven and onwards will come down the track. So we need to get the base right, and ensure we actually follow this through all the way through to devo two three four, because it’s about taking power out of Whitehall and bringing it back locally. And it will come back locally. So yes, I’m in favour of it. The actual mechanics of it and the base of it need to be right, and at the moment they’re not. So it’s very practical about how we go about this.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Sandford, you’re a big environmentalist. Peterborough and its green credentials and its green ambitions, are we a green city?
NICK SANDFORD: I’m a supporter of Peterborough aspiring to be the environment capital of the United Kingdom ..
PAUL STAINTON: Or whatever phrase is this week.
NICK SANDFORD: .. which is the slogan we have. But I think we have to recognise as a local authority we fall far short of it. There’s a lot of things .. quite a lot of areas of Peterborough are quite green, and quite pleasant, but in 2013 our council cut investment in public transport by a half. Now that is not something that an environment capital ought to be doing.
PAUL STAINTON: Park and Ride scrapped, many green transport projects gone.
NICK SANDFORD: If you look at recycling for instance ..
PAUL STAINTON: I was waiting for the water taxis now it’ll never happen.
NICK SANDFORD: Go back a few years, recycling was something where Peterborough was one of the top performers in the country. Now they’ve done things like imposing a charge for people having their garden waste collected. And our recycling rate is either flatlining or falling. So we need to aspire to be the environment capital, but it needs to be translated into practical things on the ground.
PAUL STAINTON: Can we still make some of these claims in Peterborough John, considering what you’ve had to do and what you’ve scrapped and what you’ve cut?
JOHN HOLDICH: I don’t think we can.
PAUL STAINTON: Public transport’s not the best it could ever be is it?
JOHN HOLDICH: You’ve really got to look at the sort of buses that came off from the subsidy. Very few people were using them.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you proud of public transport in Peterborough?
JOHN HOLDICH: And honestly, do you look after children and old people and those that are disadvantaged, rather than a few people that want to go on a bus at nine o’clock at night? That’t the choices that you have when you’re responsible and you’re in charge of a council.
PAUL STAINTON: Have we got a good public transport system in Peterborough.
JOHN HOLDICH: In think it’s definitely getting better, and in the devolution deal there was a mention about having some more involvement in that.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you use it? Do you use public transport? I’m not including the Mayor’s car.
JOHN HOLDICH: I do have an old person’s card, so I do use it. But ..
PAUL STAINTON: When was the last time you got on a bus?
JOHN HOLDICH: Not too long ago. But it’s never convenient when you want to come into town for a meeting and go home again.
PAUL STAINTON: Last time you got on a bus Nick Thulbourn.
NICK THULBOURN: Six weeks ago. Went from Cardea and Stanground to the town centre.
PAUL STAINTON: How was it?
NICK THULBOURN: It was entertaining.
PAUL STAINTON: What do you mean?
NICK THULBOURN: There was a friend of mine on there and his wife, and we had a bit of a laugh to be honest. So it was a good social event.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it good for everybody, the public transport system in this city, or should it be miles better?
NICK THULBOURN: Public transport is a real challenge in Peterborough, because of the Peterborough Parkway. The viability of public transport is difficult, so we need longer term objectives. The short term, some of the environment capital elements, I think the environment also goes down to some of what Amey does, people’s real environment, where they live. These are short term objectives with no long term goal. We need some thinking.
PAUL STAINTON: Wouldn’t it be great if around the Parkways we had .. I don’t know .. this is a radical thing, but what if round the Parkway we just had these places where you had, I think you call them Park and Rides, so you can put your car and just get a little bus into the city centre. Wouldn’t that work? We’ve (got a) perfect Parkway for that haven’t we John?
JOHN WHITBY: The trouble is in many ways that thanks to the Development Corporation our roads are too good.
PAUL STAINTON: Terrible. Terrible that our roads are so good.
JOHN WHITBY: It is. It’s dreadful if you’re trying to push a green agenda and take people out of their cars. I used to live and work in London, and I actually lived thirteen miles from where I worked. It took me an hour and three quarters to drive to work.
PAUL STAINTON: But if you don’t put the infrastructure in, people won’t use it.
JOHN WHITBY: No. Precisely.
PAUL STAINTON: If you don’t have Park and Rides they’re not going to park their cars at Boongate and at Werrington and at Eye and at Orton Southgate and catch a bus in are they?
JOHN WHITBY: Well Park and Ride was also suggested some time ago for the Nene Valley Railway where I work. But when you look at it, the problem is people .. and it’s one of the reasons why out of town shopping areas are so popular .. people do not want to go and shop and then have to cart what they’ve bought from where they’ve shopped to a bus, get on the bus, go to a Park and Ride area, get off the bus and cart what they’ve bought to their car. If they can go and park locally which they can, they’ll do it. And we’ve got to be very careful here. If we try and push too much environmental side in the city, we simply will kill the city.
JOHN HOLDICH: Absolutely.
PAUL STAINTON: When was the last time you got on a bus John.
JOHN WHITBY: Four weeks ago, because I always use it if I’m going to London by train, because it’s a lot easier than going by car.
PAUL STAINTON: I know the answer to this, but Nick Sandford?
NICK SANDFORD: Yes, I just want to come back on the Park and Ride issue, because we actually had a Local Transport Plan up to the current year, when Park and Ride was one of the four key major projects the Council was going to take forward. In the revision of the Local Transport Plan that was scrapped completely. Now you can’t have a council that aspires to be the environment capital of the country that has a Park and Ride proposal and then just scraps it.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. When you go somewhere like Nottingham where you park your car in a big car park safe and secure and you get on the tram into the city centre. If we had devolution for the East there might be some money for that John Holdich, mightn’t there?
JOHN HOLDICH: Let’s be honest. We tried Park and Ride at Christmas and it simply doesn’t work.
PAUL STAINTON: It was the wrong place.
JOHN HOLDICH: Well where do you want it? It was at Perkins, or it was at the Sugar Beet. We tried there. We tried it in different locations.
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve got aspirations haven’t you top be the green capital.
JOHN HOLDICH: Well absolutely. But the count. You’re asking this town which has a population of a hundred and eighty to be a population of about a quarter of a million. And when it gets there it might well be the way to do it.
NICK SANDFORD: Loads of cities across the country have Park and Ride schemes with populations equivalent to Peterborough or even smaller. It’s simply not true to say that the Christmas Park and Ride scheme wasn’t successful. Just look at the figures. The (unclear) was actually increasing at the point it was scrapped.
JOHN HOLDICH: Yes from about one to two.
NICK THULBOURN: This is the issue .. sorry this is the issue in the City Council what you’re seeing right in front of you, is that the Conservatives the Liberal Democrats UKIP are all short term. It’s either black or white. We’re going to have a Park and Ride tomorrow or we’re not. The aspiration is to actually say how are we going to get there, how are we going to actually deliver this. This is long term things. You cannot make a viable Park and Ride scheme tomorrow. But in five years time, if you move infrastructure, plan that way and that’s your goal, you will get it. But at the moment it’s black and white. And the Labour Party are thinking about it. We’re thinking about how we can actually deliver that. The Amey contract for instance. Black and white. It was an awful contract. So our environment is in a terrible state. So the Amey contract has got to be re-looked at. These things are all very short term. It’s overnight stuff that they keep coming up with. We need a vision, and the vision is for a clean environmentally friendly city, and to get rid of some of this pollution, air pollution, that is causing serious issues in my area.
NICK SANDFORD: The traffic in the city centre that is increasing and increasing, that’s what causes the air pollution. And that’s not a long term problem. That is causing problems right now with children who have respiratory ..
NICK THULBOURN: So are you in a position tomorrow to actually say with your political Liberal Democrats, are you going to get in power and actually change this? You’re not.
NICK SANDFORD: We will use ..
NICK THULBOURN: So the Labour Party have a plan, have a vision, and we will actually deliver on this, because we have a plan that is not tomorrow, alright. It’s not something that we’re going to protest about. This is something we’re going to deliver on.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Thulbourn for the Labour Party. They’ve got a plan. They’ve got a vision. We’ll find out what the other visions are after we’ve had some travel.

(TRAVEL)

PAUL STAINTON: Let me read you some of the texts that have come in, I’ll make no comment. I’ll just read them. How about this.
Mr Holdich you speak with the snake’s tongue. Where are all these jobs you speak about? Who are they for?
Paul we’re away next week. Not bothered about this local government stuff so shut up.
You need to be bothered. These are your councillors. This from somebody on text as well says:
Signing up six more people isn’t an achievement to double your .. I think they’re saying you’ve only got twelve people in the LibDems Nick.
JOHN HOLDICH: Thirteen. Be Fair.
PAUL STAINTON: And Malc says Paul, these guys are not looking out for places like Thorney. We’re getting more houses with less facilities. All city city city.
Well let’s talk about houses. Let’s talk about development. because of course we’ve got quite a lot coming on stream. We’ve got Fletton Quays. We’ve got Great Haddon. We’ve got penthouses at Hereward Tower. Flats next to London Road. Cardea continues to grow. The development out at Yaxley continues to grow. And we’ve got the old PDH site. But yet developers appear to be getting away with murder John Holdich don’t they, and going back on their promises across the city.
JOHN HOLDICH: Why do you say that?
PAUL STAINTON: Because they keep changing what they’re promising, and you keep letting them off, don’t you?
JOHN HOLDICH: Ah. No no no no. You don’t. If you look, and we’re going forward and it’s in the Budget, and we’re going to put £20 million into housing, what you do, you take affordable housing off a particular site is you take a commuted sum. And that now tats up to about £20 million in this town, which is going into a joint venture company, and we will build houses right across the spectrum. You know, starter homes, shared ownership, houses for rent, houses for the disabled and so on. That’s a vision for the future.
PAUL STAINTON: But developers don’t need to keep their word.
JOHN HOLDICH: But if you look at Cardea for instance. I think that’s a good example, Cardea when it came, because we starting to get the 106s and right(?) on planning thing. They put in the pub, they put in the library, they put in the school before the houses were built around it. If you look at the problems we have out at Hampton, that 106 was set 20 years ago when the estimated population especially of young people was a lot less. We’ve doubled the size of both primary schools in Hampton and built a new one, because the birth rate there is higher than expected.
PAUL STAINTON: John Whitby for UKIP. Has this present administration done a good job when it comes to infrastructure and housebuilding?
JOHN WHITBY: No I think you’ll find that house building has outstripped infrastructure. Again goes back to development for development’s sake in some areas. And yes we do need the housing, but too much housing without the infrastructure to support it is no use to man nor beast. And I do understand what Thorney is saying. It’s OK building houses out there, but there’s no infrastructure around there to support the houses that are built and the increased population. One of the things that the Development Corporation did get right is the infrastructure went in first, and then the housing came after. Here we’re doing it the other way round, and we’re hoping that the developers who actually built the 1000 houses that are needed to hit the target before they build a shop or doctor’s surgery rather than stop at 999 which allows them to get away with it.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Thulbourn for Labour, are we getting what we’re promised by deveopers in this city, and will the panacea be John Holdich’s company that’s going to build all these houses? I didn’t mean personally John.
JOHN HOLDICH: It’s going to plough the proceeds back in and keep the services going in Peterborough. But it’s not coming into my pockets.
PAUL STAINTON: No I didn’t mean that. Nick.
NICK THULBOURN: The biggest issue we have in Peterborough is housing. People need the freedom to live in a decent house.
PAUL STAINTON: So that’s number one on the Labour manifesto
NICK THULBOURN: Absolutely.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re in power on May 6th,.
NICK THULBOURN: We will ..
PAUL STAINTON: Housing top of the list,
NICK THULBOURN: We will put housing up in this city. We have a plan and a method of actually delivering that. The developments at the moment, in the areas where Labour councillrs are actually engaged and involved, which is across the city, we do tend to manage it much better. So we apply pressure. But the biggest issue is central government. They’re redefining what housing they allow to happen via planning. Rental houses, the mix of rentals and different .. and the right to buy type scenarios are causing huge issues in this city of uncertainty. The bedroom tax has caused all sorts of problems around which houses ..
PAUL STAINTON: The spare room subsidy for some.
NICK THULBOURN: It’s a real issue. It’s something that we need to deliver. And again, going back to before, it’s too black and white. It’s too short term. What are we trying to achieve in Peterborough? Are we just trying to achieve building for building’s sake of it, or are we actually going to try to build for what people need?
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Sandford for the Liberal Democrats. The most important thing if you’re in power on May 6th, or you’ve got a hand in power, is housing in this city. Do you agree?
NICK SANDFORD: I agree we need more housing. Peterborough is a growing place with a growing population. But it needs to be housing planned on a sustainable basis. To give a specific example, I was last night in the Manor Drive area out in Paston. What people are telling me there is the Council has built a massive housing estate, there are no shops, there is no public transport, in order to get to a local bus service people need to cross over the Parkway. And that is not sustainable development.
PAUL STAINTON: For UKIP of course we’ve got John Whitby with us. John, is that your most important item on your to-do list on May 6th? If you’ve got your 12 councillors, will you be pushing whoever’s leading the Council to look at housing? Is that top of the list?
JOHN WHITBY: Housing is very high on the list. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s at the top.
PAUL STAINTON: What is?
JOHN WHITBY: There’s an awful lot going on.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s at the top?
JOHN WHITBY: It’s the whole .. we’ve got to look at the entire way the Council has been planning the development of Peterborough. You can’t look at one thing in isolation, because otherwise you do that and it has a knock-on effect all along the line. And one of the things about UKIP is we are very pragmatic. You look at what you’ve got and you work from that. It’s no good saying we’d love to have this, we’d love to have that, if that’s not where you are to start with. Now housing is absolutely vital, but we’ve got to look at other things within the housing area including the large number of homes in multiple occupancy that we’ve now got in Peterborough. We’ve got to tackle that. We’ve got to tackle the landlording issues, so that people have a decent place to live. There is affordable housing, but it’s no good putting up house after house after house like they have in Manor Drive, where there are no services, no amenities for the people who are then dumped there. You’ve got to look at the whole thing as a cohesive plan. You can’t just say we’ll look at this. You look at the whole thing across the board.
PAUL STAINTON: John thank you. That’s it guys. We’re almost out of time. Somebody made the point though that four middle-aged men talking about Peterborough hardly represents Peterborough. Is that a fair point?
NICK THULBOURN: It’s a very fair point. Absolutely spot-on. In the Labour Party we’ve got youngsters, we’ve got women, we’ve got disabled, we’ve got everybody involved from all parts of the city. From businessmen down to people who are disabled. So it is about diversity, it’s about representing the people of Peterborough.
PAUL STAINTON: So Labour’s got a diverse number of candidates.
NICK THULBOURN: Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: Conservatives?
JOHN HOLDICH: Yes. We have as well. And we do have a vision, and you will have a new plan coming out in July to build. Problem you have been promised here a lot by others, but Government policy doesn’t allow you to do a lot of it. And we’re working on old planning agreements. Hampton for instance is 22 years old. It isn’t up to date. But new estates I believe we are getting it right.
NICK THULBOURN: The Conservatives are not supporting the Conservatives in Peterborough on housing.
JOHN HOLDICH: I don’t know what you mean by that. We will and with this new company be able to build houses for everybody including those to rent, whether the Government like it or not.
PAUL STAINTON: OK. You’re going to go against the Government. I like that. Nick Sandford. Is the Liberal Democrat party diverse?
NICK SANDFORD: Yes if you looked at our Council group we have two members of it out of four who are ethnic minorities. We’ve got one female councillor out of four. We aren’t complacent. Our party has just recently put in place a new mechanism for selection of parliamentary candidates to make sure that we do represent all sectors, all groups.
PAUL STAINTON: The whole city. Yes. John Whitby, UKIP candidates. Are they from a diverse background?
JOHN WHITBY: Diverse background, but we like to choose the best people, wherever they happen to come from.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re laughing John Holdich.
JOHN WHITBY: Not select people particularly because they’re from a particular group, but the best that we can find. The one difference I will put out ..
PAUL STAINTON: Very quickly John.
JOHN WHITBY: .. is that we are the only party here that don’t have a whip, and therefore the candidates vote the way they feel is best for their local area.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick’s saying that’s not true.
NICK SANDFORD: We don’t have a party whip either.
PAUL STAINTON: So you can vote with your conscience basically.
JOHN HOLDICH: And that’s absolute rubbish as is proved on devolution.
PAUL STAINTON: Gentlemen etcetera … I’m going to give you all thirty seconds now to tell us whay people across Peterborough ought to vote for your party in their local elections in a week today, and will be thirty seconds. I’m going to start with .. let’s start with you Nick Thulbourn.
NICK THULBOURN: Thanks. This is a call to action next Thursday. The Labour Party is ready. It has the talent and experience to deliver in every ward. We believe that we can actually make a difference to your life, whether it’s in your job or in your own street. Whatever your background, whatever your circumstances, we are here to support everybody. If you want active involved councillors who truly believe in the ability of the people of Peterborough, you need to vote for Labour, because we have the ability to deliver.
PAUL STAINTON: John Whitby, what is UKIP going to do for the people of Peterborough?
JOHN WHITBY: UKIP is the new boy on the block. We haven’t got the historical baggage that the other parties have got behind them. We look at things from a very pragmatic and practical view, and our view is quite simple. Is this right for the people you represent? If it is, then that’s what we go for. If it isn’t, we go against it. And we will look at the way Peterborough is run, and the way we can develop it for the best interests of everyone living in the city.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick Sandford, the LibDems, a resurgence from you? Why should people vote for you?
NICK SANDFORD: People have got a real choice on May 5th. Do they want councillors who work all the year round, or do they just want April showers at this time of year? Do you want a council that invests in areas where people are, or one that invests in grandiose projects in the city centre? Do you want a council that protects our environment and invests in public transport, and above all a council that is open and accountable? If those are what you want, then the Liberal Democrats ought to be your choice.
PAUL STAINTON: John Holdich, why should we put our cross in the blue box in Peterborough this year?
JOHN HOLDICH: I believe that our record is good. We sorted out Selective Licensing to sort out those houses in multiple occupation. We will build houses across the city that people want. And we will protect areas as I said before. I think we have a vision for the city. There’ll be a new vision for the city coming out in July, which all the parties can do. And just let me say we work well together as a council, and you haven’t seen a lot of argument about our Budget, because we have worked together with other parties to produce that Budget as well.
PAUL STAINTON: Got to leave it there. John, thank you very much. John Holdich, standing in Glinton and Castor for the Conservatives. Nick Thulbourn, standing in Stanground and Fletton for Labour. Nick Sandford, standing in Paston and Walton for the LibDems, and John Whitby, standing in Fletton and Stanground for UKIP. Thank you gentlemen for coming in this morning. Really appreciate that.

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