Rebellion in the Tory ranks – keeping order on Peterborough City Council

He never actually resigned. Let’s make that absolutely clear.

inspection17:11 Friday 15th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PETER SWAN: Let’s focus on this evolving situation as regards Peterborough City Council. Now they say a week’s a long time in politics, and just seven days ago the Tories in Peterborough were opening the champagne after narrowly regaining control of the City Council. The Prime Minister even paid a visit to mark the occasion. But today it’s been a nail-biting few hours, as one of their number has been talking of resigning from the party to become an Independent. Sara who’s reading the news for you this afternoon and also producing is here to explain a little bit more about what’s been going on. Sara.
SARA VAREY: Well Peter as you say it all looked to be going so well. Here’s David Cameron in Peterborough just last week.
DAVID CAMERON: The people in Peterborough who worked so hard , who’ve done so well representing the people of this great city, that are seeing jobs being created, seeing businesses come to Peterborough, seeing great regeneration happening in Peterborough, homes being built in Peterborough, you won because you worked hard and you deserve to win. So have a celebration today, have a celebration over the weekend, and the work starts on Monday. I’ve got a small majority. John’s got a small majority. But I’m sure with the commitment and with the dedication you’ve all shown, you’re going to do great things for this great city. Thank you very much indeed.
SARA VAREY: Well the empties have barely been taken to the bottle bank and there’s trouble brewing. Tory councillor Gul Nawaz announced this morning he was thinking fo leaving the Tories.
PETER SWAN: OK. So just a few days. What’s he been thinking about?
SARA VAREY: Well summit meetings have been in progress all day. Peterborough’s MP Stewart Jackson said that he’d been in talks with Gul along with the Council Leader John Holdich.
PETER SWAN: So how then would this defection upset the balance? Clearly it’s very important.
SARA VAREY: It could be. The Tories has a majority of just one seat. They had 31 in a chamber of 60. That changed from 57, because this year they introduced new boundaries, and 3 extra councillors were elected, which makes a total of 60. Right? Are you following this?
PETER SWAN: Yes.
SARA VAREY: So if it was tied, it would be 30 all. 30 all. OK?
PETER SWAN: Yes.
SARA VAREY: With Labour .. because the Labour councillors hold 14 seats, so there’s no other big majority or bigger majority.
PETER SWAN: OK. So what is the mechanism therefore if it does end up tied?
SARA VAREY: The Mayor has the casting vote. And the way the Mayor is chosen has also changed.
PETER SWAN: OK. Right. So tell us more about that.
SARA VAREY: Under the new system, the longest-serving councillor gets the job, and the man who holds that title is David Sanders, who’s a Tory, which means there could still be a happy if somewhat precarious outcome.
PETER SWAN: Ok so that’s the mechanism of it all. Are we at an end now?
SARA VAREY: Well almost. Half an hour ago we heard that Gul had now decided to stay. He didn’t want to come on, but John Holdich has agreed to come on and he can fill us in.
PETER SWAN: Well I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll head over and get the latest from the roads, and then we’ll speak to John and see if we can unpick all of this. Because certainly a lot to take on board.

TRAVEL

PETER SWAN: It’s been a very busy day in terms of Peterborough politics. The balance of power potentially looking like it may change, but now it looks as though it’s all going to stay the same. Let’s get a word then with the current Tory Leader of Peterborough City Council, John Holdich, who joins us now. Evening to you John.
JOHN HOLDICH: Good evening.
PETER SWAN: So you’ve had a busy few hours.
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Conservative MP rejects forced academisation of schools

“Look at the disputes you’re going to have over redundancy. Look at the disputes you’re going to have over land disposals. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

_80751450_stewartjackson10:24 Friday 22nd April 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Let’s get reaction now to our big interview from yesterday’s show with the Leader of Peterborough City Council John Holdich. It was quite late in the show. You may have missed it. If you have, you can listen to the whole thing again on-line on the BBC iPlayer. He exclusively revealed that if David Cameron forces schools to become academies, that the Council would consider setting up its own educational trust so it could still run schools in the city, effectively regaining control. Well his comments came after the Government confirmed it would be forcing schools across Cambridgeshire to accept academy status, an idea councillor Holdich says is flawed. Here is he is explaining what he meant on yesterday’s show.

It started with bringing a few schools together. .. But now you’ve got academy trusts with a hundred schools. They’re no more than mini-LEAs. And they don’t focus on your city. .. I will .. see whether we can set up our own Trust, and have our own family of schools.

So why is the Leader of Peterborough City Council so against academies? Why is anybody? Well the whole thing was brought up earlier in the week in the House of Commons by the MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson. Morning Stewart.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: John Holdich, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him quite so forceful, quite so against something. And there saying if we can’t beat them we’re going to join them and regain control of our schools. What’s the problem with academies per se?
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Stewart Jackson on a British exit from the European Union

09:24 Wednesday 3rd February 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: We’re off to Europe. We’re in. We’re out. We’re shaking it all about. After months of waiting and negotiating David Cameron has returned from Brussels with a draft deal on Britain’s future in Europe. It will allow Britain to immediately impose what’s called an emergency brake on the payment of in-work benefits to EU migrants, if of course you, me and everybody else votes to stay in, whenever the referendum may be. It also includes plans for a red card system allowing national parliaments to collectively block EU proposals for new legislation. Mr Cameron described it as a ‘substantial change’.
DAVID CAMERON: I think that is a very strong and powerful package. As I’ve said, none of this is agreed yet. None of the detail is fixed. There’s more work to be done. This European Council doesn’t meet and discuss and debate all this for a couple of weeks. But I think we have secured some very important changes which go directly to the issues that we raised as a Member of the European Union.
PAUL STAINTON: However the proposals have been criticised for not going far enough. David Cameron wanted to deny benefits to EU migrants for four years, but the proposals stop short of that. Instead benefits will be withheld to start with, then gradually restored over the four years. It’s also not clear how easy it will be to pull the so-called emergency brake, or how long that might last. The Conservatives also pledged in their manifesto to stop EU migrants sending their child benefit back home. Under the new proposals the payments will continue, but they’ll be linked to local prices in the child’s country. Richard Tice is the founder of Leave.EU. Not impressed I think it’s fair to say.
RICHARD TICE: There’s absolutely nothing in this document. The Prime Minister is trying to deceive the British people by saying that there’s substantial change. There is nothing except a restatement of the existing status quo. We’ve already got a veto with other parliaments, with other nations, through the Council of Ministers, so the red card system is a complete red herring.
PAUL STAINTON: So what do you make of it? Has he got the deal that you wanted him to get? Is it enough to make you vote to stay in the Union if we get a referendum say June or July? Or has it all been a complete waste of time? We’d like to hear what you think this morning. 03459 252000. 81333 on text. Let’s get the reaction from some of our local MPs. Stewart Jackson is the MP for Peterborough. Very critical of David Cameron’s stance on Europe before. Has he brought home the bacon Stewart?
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Stewart Jackson and Daniel Zeichner on the EU referendum

schengen17:46 Friday 15th January 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: The EU referendum represents a once in a lifetime decision according to the Chancellor. He says it’s unrealistic to assume the poll will be repeated. Mr Osborne, who describes himself as Eurosceptic, said he was optimistic about reaching a deal on EU reforms. And today the Head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker suggested a deal is likely in February which would allow we’re told a referendum as early as June of this year. So how are our local MPs lining up? I spoke to two of them earlier, Eurosceptic Conservative Stewart Jackson, the MP for Peterborough and Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge. I asked Stewart Jackson first if he believed a vote would come as soon as June.
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David Sanders – costly errors and accountability at Peterborough City Council

09:23 Wednesday 25th October 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Today marks the end. It’s a momentous day, the end of Peterborough City Council’s solar dreams. Let’s call it that. The plan to use Grade I farming land to build a big green energy park, or a series of them. At today’s Cabinet meeting, which is underway right now, the Council will confirm they’re dropping plans for the third and final site on America Farm, the last strand of this three-pronged dream. It means all three plans are now dead in the water. But the whole venture has cost the taxpayer, you and me and everybody else, over £3 million. And not a penny’s coming back from it. The original proposal from the Council claimed the project could make millions of pounds, but the project was constantly hindered by objections from locals, reductions in the tariff from the Government, and the fact the land is right next to Flag Fen, so it needed to be excavated. Councillor David Sanders is the councillor for Thorney and Eye, and he’s with us this morning. David, morning. David morning.
DAVID SANDERS: Good morning. Can you hear me OK?
PAUL STAINTON: Yes I’ve got you now. I’ve got you now.
DAVID SANDERS: OK.
PAUL STAINTON: Now this was at one time billed as the Leader Marco Cereste’s vanity project by Stewart Jackson MP and others. There were accusations farmers weren’t listened to. I was still doing Breakfast at the time when it was first mooted. I had a lady in here crying, who’d lived on a farm for many many years, saying they’d not been consulted. Was this just a bad idea from the start? Was it a good idea that was badly managed? Or was it just a punt?
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Stewart Jackson on HMRC restructuring

hmrc17:09 Thursday 12th November 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Over 400 jobs are to go at the tax offices in Cambridge and Peterborough, as part of a restructuring for HMRC. The tax authority is planning to close 137 offices across the UK and replace them with 13 regional centres. In a moment we’ll get reaction from the union which represents HMRC workers in this region (see note), but first of all let’s bring in the Conservative MP for Peterborough, Stewart Jackson. Hello to you Stewart.
STEWART JACKSON: Hi Chris.
CHRIS MANN: Another jobs blow. Your reaction to this, which of course coming from your own government.
STEWART JACKSON: Well naturally I’m very sympathetic and sorry for the staff who are going to lose their jobs, or at least lose the location of their jobs. I know that some will take voluntary redundancy, and some will choose to commute to London. But it is a blow, particularly before Christmas, and not good for the city, because these are very good high quality white collar jobs, and I’m very disappointed. And I do think that we need to work together, the regeneration agency, the Jobcentre, the City Council and local MPs, to work with Ministers to make sure that the number of compulsory redundancies is an absolute minimum.
CHRIS MANN: It’s going to happen over four years, a big shake-up of the tax system. Does it need that?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I do think it needs a bigger focus on customer-fronted services. The complaints I consistently get are about the lack of responsiveness and customer care from HMRC. It has improved over the years, but it needs to do better, particularly for businesses and individual taxpayers. I think there’s still a problem. Having said that, I want to see the detail, because I’m not entirely convinced that if you’re running a business in Peterborough, that you really ought to be dealing with a regional centre in east London. And I want to see the details. But in the first instance, my job is to try and make sure that this process is handled sensitively and that there are jobs for people that want to continue to work for HMRC.
CHRIS MANN: Yes because the Government spoke about empowering people in the regions, and moving power away from the centre. And yet the tax is at the centre of all of our society isn’t it, and this is being moved to East Stratford of all places. That would be the centre for the whole Eastern Region. Seems odd.
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MP attacks decision to shelve landlord licensing scheme

10:38 Friday 18th September 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Now more on housing, and in particular in Peterborough. The Conservative MP for the city has launched a scathing attack on the city’s Conservative-led council, after it performed a dramatic U-turn this week. The Council had announced plans to introduce a licence that would see landlords charged a fee in areas like Gladstone, Millfield, New England and Eastfield. The idea of the licence was to crack down on anti-social behaviour and unscrupulous landlords. Many thought that was a good idea. Critics though said it’s a bit racist, saying the Council was targeting an area which predominantly is home to Asian landlords. Well at a meeting earlier this week, the Council decided to delay the introduction of the scheme, which has annoyed our next guest. Stewart Jackson MP for Peterborough is with me now. Stewart, good morning.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: So there were criticisms that it was targeting perhaps Asian landlords in those areas. And the Council are saying look, we’ve had a look at this. The scheme is two years old. We’re going to have a consultation and perhaps bring out something bigger and better later down the line.
STEWART JACKSON: Well this is about fairness, and the fact is that it’s quite despicable, particular for Labour councillors, to play the race card. The fact is that unscrupulous landlords happen to be to some extent Asian or Pakistani heritage. It’s not aimed at Pakistani heritage people who are also landlords. And there is a distinction there. The fact is it’s a fairness issue. Why should landlords who have a vested financial interest have their own committee, their own working group, be able to turn up to influence and harangue councillors, have their own pet councillors frankly who put their view across, when vulnerable families, decent people in rented accommodation, people who’ve lived in central Peterborough for years, they don’t have a say directly to the decision makers? And I think this decision by Peterborough City Council, it’s either two things. It’s either borderline civic corruption, in other words undue coercion and pressure.
PAUL STAINTON: Because there’s a lot of councillors who own houses in the city.
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MP defends affordable homes waiver for prime development site

stewart_jackson_mp09:34 Wednesday 9th September 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: There was uproar in Peterborough yesterday after permission was given for a developer to backtrack on plans for the old Peterborough District Hospital site. You know, the thing that’s been derelict for, well, since the old Queen died. Lands Improvement Holdings had been set to pay £1.2 million to Peterborough City Council and build more than 50 affordable homes on the site. But the company claim they now can’t afford it, and at a meeting last night pleaded with councillors to reduce the amount of money to less than £1 million, AND to scrap any plans to build any affordable housing. Yes, the state this county is in, people need all these homes. They’re not going to build any affordable housing. Is that right? How do we solve this county’s housing crisis if we don’t build affordable homes? MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson, let’s get his view on it. Stewart, good morning.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Is this right?
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