With next week’s full council seeing a motion of no confidence in the current administration, it looks likely that we will be seeing an end to the Conservative administration after over two decades.
For the last couple of years, we have seen opposition parties working closely with the administration to help produce a sustainable future for the council, much of the praise, however, should go to council officers that have transformed council structures and operations to bring about substantial savings, specifically our new executive director for finance Cecille Booth has brought about a culture change in dealing with budget responsibility away from a top-down approach towards one that lies with individual departments and officers.
A new model of better transparency, respect, and collaboration has also been brought in by our Chief Executive Matt Gladstone across the organisation so we can meet the challenges that the council faces head-on. Councillors across the political divide need to embrace this new way of working and it is beginning to take shape. This isn’t what the Conservatives warned people about; a coalition of chaos, but a realisation that no group has all the answers and that we see far better outcomes by working together for a stronger Peterborough that puts its residents first and political dogma takes a back seat.
This is no easy task and it depends on better communication, and treading lightly around the sensitive areas. It takes a desire to move forward together with no surprises.
This leads me to the reason for next week’s change in administration, we have seen a return to a more combative approach from the Conservative leadership, and recently a sudden unannounced change of mind regarding the Combine Authority’s Local Transport and Connectivity Policy (LTCP) despite having made assurances that Peterborough would use its vote to approve the plan. Because the LTCP was not approved it meant that vital funds (£200k) have been held up to move Peterborough’s new bus depot towards a reality that sees diesel buses replaced by electric-powered ones. This has forced a rethink on how the council needs to conduct business going forward and a change in leadership seems to be the best way ahead.
As a group, the Liberal Democrats will remain as opposition officially, but in reality, we are hoping to build on the sort of support we gave the previous administration and explore with other opposition parties ways that we can help play our part in a positive transformation for our council and our city.