07:00 Tuesday 22nd March 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
EMMA MACLEAN: The Leader of Peterborough’s English Democrat Party has decided to run against the Leader of the City Council in the forthcoming local elections. Councillor Stephen Goldspink will stand in the Stanground Central Ward against Marco Cereste. Ben Stevenson reports.
BEN STEVENSON: Councillor Stephen Goldspink used to represent the Conservative Party in the East Ward of the city, but left after Marco Cereste was elected as the new Leader. He and fellow councillor Graham Murphy then defected to the newly-formed Peterborough English Democrat Party, back in October 2009. If Councillor Goldspink isn’t elected in the Stanground Central election, then he will still remain as a councillor for the East Ward.
EMMA MACLEAN: And Paul Stainton will be talking to Stephen Goldspink on the Peterborough Breakfast Show after this bulletin.
PAUL STAINTON: Stephen Goldspink is with us this morning. Good morning. Why?
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: Good morning Paul. Well, Councillor Cereste and his administration, since I left the Conservatives, have constantly been telling me to go and get my own mandate. So one thing is, I’m following their suggestion, to get my own mandate. Secondly, my candidate for Stanground Central, who was very succesful last year, well not that successful, but got quite a few votes ..
PAUL STAINTON: Moderately.
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: Moderately successful. She did well from a standing start. She can’t stand this year. And we need a candidate in Stanground Central. I also have listened to your listeners, who keep saying they want Marco to be challenged. And I don’t think he’s good for Stanground or Peterborough. So people have got the opportunity. The old Leader of the Council Neville Sanders, many years ago, said that the elections are the ultimate vote of confidence, the ultimate opinion poll.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. You’re already a councillor though. You’ve already got the East Ward Council seat. Why do you want another?
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: Well I can’t have another. The fact is, if I am successful in Stanground, I’d have to give up the East Ward seat. But my links with that seat are diminishing. I’ve moved out of the area recently. I’m closer now to Stanground than I am to East Ward, and I’m looking to the future, and what I can do for people of that area.
PAUL STAINTON: Is there a risk though that you’re going to lose both seats here?
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: Well no, because I retain the East Ward one until 2012. It’ll be .. I’ll have to see what happens in 2012, whether I stand there again, or whether I stand somewhere else.
PAUL STAINTON: You said Marco Cereste is not good for Stanground. What could you do for Stanground? What connection do you have with it?
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: Well I drive through it every day, which is probably more than Councillor Cereste does. I’ve already taken an interest in local issues going on there, for example Stanground School. I’m very keen to get Stanground School buildings up and running. We had a plan in place. Unfortunately the Government pulled the plug. I can’t see the City Council currently has worked very hard on that, which is surprising, given that Councillor Cereste is Leader and Stanground School is in his ward. And also there was an issue on the Pondersbridge/Whittlesea road, where there was a lot of chaos, and I got involved there, from a personal point of view, but also to support local people who were saying, this is just too bad.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. OK. Marco will be on this show after 8 o’clock this morning. He’ll be quivering in his boots this morning, do you think? Have you got serious chances?
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: I don’t know, to be honest Paul. I’ve certainly got a lot of people who are supporting me. I know that Councillor Cereste is relying on party colleagues. I’ve just got ordinary members of the public, and local people, who are coming to help me. But I think one of the things that people will take account of is that since Councillor Cereste came to power, there’s been an over £60,000 increase in Members’ Allowances going to Conservatives, when he created extra posts. His Deputy got his own office, his own PA. Now they’ve got a Cabinet Office. Then they spent £35,000 a year on a PA and Personal Manager for the Leader of the Council. The conflict of interests that exist between Councillor Cereste and the many outside interests he’s got.
PAUL STAINTON: Well alleged conflicts of interests.
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: Alleged yes. OK. Perceived, if you like. But he’s got 20 different directorships and interests that are listed on the Council website. I have enough trouble doing two jobs. I don’t know how I’d do 22.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Is it sour grapes? Because you used to be on the same side here, didn’t you? You used to be part of the same party.
STEPHEN GOLDSPINK: I wouldn’t really call it sour grapes. I think I have been stung by some of the criticism, but I’m always buoyed up by the words of Winston Churchill, who said that some politicians change their party to match their principles, and some politicians change their principles to match their party.
PAUL STAINTON: Fighting talk from Councillor Stephen Goldspink, who will be standing against Marco Cereste in Stanground Central in May’s elections. We’ll be speaking to Council Leader and current ward councillor for Stanground Marco Cereste after 8 this morning. Will he be quivering in his boots at Stephen’s news? We’ll find out.
PAUL STANTON: Well on the line now in the blue corner, Marco Cereste. Good morning sir.
MARCO CERESTE: Hello Paul. How are you?
PAUL STAINTON: How are you?
MARCO CERESTE: I’m great, thank you.
PAUL STAINTON: Not quivering in the corner at the moment then, no?
MARCO CERESTE: No no no no no no.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s your reaction to this?
MARCO CERESTE: Well it’s fantastic. We live in a democracy. Everybody’s entitled to stand, and do whatever it is they think they need to do. And if Councillor Goldspink wants to come and stand in Stanground, then so be it.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it a bit of sour grapes, in your opinion? Because you used to be on the same side, didn’t you?
MARCO CERESTE: Well, I don’t really want to go there. If Councillor Goldspink wants to come and stand in Stanground, then let him do so. You know, best of luck to him. And to say that we’re not doing anything about Stanground School is a complete nonsense. You know that we’ve been concentrating on the education in the city. I can guarantee the people in Stanground that they will have a new school, and they will have it as soon as possible. We’ve just been negotiating with the Government for some new funding. And we should have an announcement in the next few days. So unless purdah catches us, and you know what happens when purdah comes, you can’t say anything any more. But I can guarantee the people in Stanground that they will have a new school, and they will have it shortly.
PAUL STAINTON: There were criticisms from Stephen earlier in the show that you don’t do a lot for Stanground at all.
MARCO CERESTE: Oh well. Talk to the people in Stanground. (LAUGHS) You know, I mean I don’t want to get into a personal fight with Stephen Goldspink. What I’ve been concentrating on, I respond to every single person in Stanground who has a problem, and needs .. we just sorted out .. we’ve been working with the Baby Cafe, we’ve had all sorts of pavements repaired, potholes, all sorts of work done, all round the ward. It’s nonsense. But this is election time, and that’s the way it is. You know I’ve been concentrating on Stanground and Peterborough, creating new jobs, making sure we’ve got the right education, there’s money in for the schools. I’ve already said about the schools. There’ll soon be an announcement about the University in Peterborough, that lots of people in Stanground will want to go to as well. And my record speaks for itself. We’ve got 5,000 new jobs in the last two years. When has that ever been done? And a lot of those jobs are available and will have been taken up by people who live in Stanground.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s the messga you’re hearing on the campaign trail though Marco?
MARCO CERESTE: The message I’m getting is very very positive, because the people of Stanground do know that I do put myself out. I genuinely do respond to every single person who contacts me. 99 times out of 100 I can resolve their problems, and do so. There’s always the odd one which for some legal reason , or something, can’t be done. But the people of Stanground know what the truth is. They know that I’m in the ward all of the time, not just passing through every so often. They know that I’m very heavily involved with the local community association, and local groups, youth groups etcetera. So I’m looking forward to the elections, because obviously I’d like to get re-elected. And if Councillor Goldspink or anyone else wants to stand, that’s exactly why we have a democracy. And if he wins, then I shall congratulate him, the same way as I would anybody else.
PAUL STAINTON: What would happen though, if you did lose your seat? You would no longer be Council Leader.
MARCO CERESTE: Absolutely. I lose my seat, I am no longer a councillor, and I’m no longer Council Leader. But if that’s what the people of this city want, then so be it. That’s why we fought two world wars for democracy. It’s not for me to gainsay it.
PAUL STAINTON: No. We look forward to a good clean fight Marco. The dukes are up. At least it’s going to create a lot of interest, that’s a good thing I suppose.
MARCO CERESTE: Well absolutely, absolutely. It would be better of course if Councillor Goldspink actually stood down from East Ward as a councillor, saving the city a lot of public money if we have to call a by-election. It would be much better if he just stood down now, and then just fought me. But it’s strange that he wants to be a councillor in East Ward, and then stands as a councillor in Stanground. He ought to make his mind up.
PAUL STAINTON: Oh we’re getting a dig in. I like a dig at the end. (LAUGHS)
MARCO CERESTE: That was no dig. As you know, I’ve been working really really hard with the Cabinet to produce a really good budget for the city, and I don’t like to see waste, and I don’t .. and I respect entirely Councillor Goldspink’s view to want to stand in Stanground, but he’s already a councillor in East Ward. If he was to stand down now, in East Ward, of course then if he wins in Stanground, then we don’t have the expense of a .. we wouldn’t have the expense of a by-election in East Ward. And that would save many thousands of pounds of public money. It’s a question that perhaps he ought to answer. (SNIFFS)
PAUL STAINTON: OK. Marco, thank you for that. He’s calling for Stephen Goldspink to stand down now, and fight him in Stanground Central. And news coming in of another high-profile person who’s going to stand against Marco Cereste in Stanground Central. Good morning Chris York from the Labour Party. Good morning.
CHRIS YORK: Hi mate. How are you doing?
PAUL STAINTON: I’m alright. You stood in the General Election. You’re now going to stand against Marco Cereste as well?
CHRIS YORK: It’s not a case of standing against Marco. I’ve lived in Stanground now for 17 years. I’ve been actively involved in the community for a number of years. Unlike some candidates, I don’t have hidden political agendas. I’m just simply standing because I live and work and care for Stanground. I care about the people. I’m actively involved. I’m a school governor at Stanground College. I’m Chair of the Neighbourhood Police Panel. I’m actively involved in other community groups, getting funding for pre-school nurseries etcetera. So I don’t come out at election-time. I’m out all year round. That’s the difference.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. So we’ve got a .. well it could be much much more, but we’ve got a big three-way fight now, between the English Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives. Are you confident Marco’s done a decent job in Stanground? Or are you going to be having a clean fight? Will you be attacking the incumbent?
CHRIS YORK: I always fight a clean .. you know. I’m not interested in the other political parties, to be honest with you. Whatever they’re campaigning for is entirely up to them. But I’m in touch with real people. They have real issues. There’s a lot of people really struggling with all the cutbacks. I’m not blaming anybody for that, but the bottom line is people need help and support. People need a voice. They need somebody that actually cares for them. And unfortunately there’s a lot of people in all of our communities, but in particular in Stanground, that feel they’re not getting that. So I’ve already had a playground reinstalled in Appleyard, the little toddlers’ playground. We lobbied the Council to get that reinstated. (UNCLEAR). .. and the bus services etcetera. So yes, I’m active all year round. My phone is always ringing. I’m probably doing about 25/30 hours a week in my local community. So I think I’m probably suitably qualified as a genuine candidate, to represent the people.
PAUL STAINTON: Well. We wish you the best of luck, and everybody who stands of course in the forthcoming council elections. And may you keep your dukes up, and make it a clean and interesting fight. It sounds like it’s going to be an interesting council election, doesn’t it, in Stanground Central? Chris York will be standing for Labour, Marco Cereste for the Conservatives, and Stephen Goldspink for the English Democrats. Who next?