Local Elections 2022: We want an open and inclusive city, writes Lib Dem group leader Nick Sandford

Next Thursday, May 5, could be an important day for Peterborough. The Conservatives have run our city for the past 22 years, they have squandered money on pet projects in the city centre and neglected the areas where people live. Their mismanagement coupled with cuts in government grant have plunged the city council into a crisis where the government has threatened to step in an take over the council.
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On Thursday, May 5, you and your fellow Peterborians have a chance to vote for real change. People in the city who have Liberal Democrat councillors know that they work hard for residents, keeping in touch through Focus newsletters and seeking people's views through regular residents surveys. In part of my ward (Walton), Focus newsletters have been going out regularly for more than 40 years. That's not a cynical election ploy: it is part of our belief as Liberal Democrats in consulting and empowering our local communities.

Lib Dems have set out an "Eight Point Plan for Peterborough", which outlines what our priorities would be if we hold a position of influence on the council after the elections. The Liberal Democrats want to create a fair, safe, and sustainable Peterborough in which everyone is equally empowered to fulfil their ambitions and live a healthy life. We have the ideas that Peterborough needs in order to build a society in which everyone - regardless of their age, gender, or background - has the opportunity to fulfil their potential and get on in life.

To do this we would: reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, tackle the climate emergency, give residents a greater say on what happens in their area, improve our public transport, roads and pavements, build affordable housing, improve education for all, tackle social exclusion and improve the care and health of our residents, increase efficiency, deliver effective services.

Sadly, under the Conservatives, our city is falling backwards. Our council is over-centralised and secretive, we are failing to act to address the climate emergency, our services are being cut while anti-social behaviour is increasing, and the lack of affordable housing has become an issue. The Lib Dems believe that our city can have a bright future, but only with fresh ideas. The stale days of failing Conservative leadership need to make way for new and innovative ideas.

In my PT election articles over the past two weeks, I talked about our ideas on changing the way the council is run and how we could tackle climate change, protect our environment and promote greener ways of travel. Many of the things we need to do are not about spending more but spending differently to help the council and the city achieve key objectives.

It's no accident that reducing crime and anti-social behaviour appears at number one in our eight point plan. In our residents' survey this year in Paston and Walton it was residents' number one concern and Lib Dem surveys in other wards have also shown it as one of the top issues. Currently too many of our council enforcement officers spend all their time in the city centre. As a result, problems such as dog fouling, graffiti, fly-tipping, and problem parking in residential areas aren’t being tackled. We will ensure that the council works with the police to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour across our city. We will also promote and encourage more local communities to establish Speedwatch and Neighbourhood Watch schemes to further assist in the reduction of anti-social behaviour. We will also ask the police to allocate resources to reduce violent crime and domestic abuse and assist victims.

For more on our "Eight Point Plan" and our detailed election manifesto, go to www.peterboroughlibdems.org.uk