I have an op­ti­mistic view of fu­ture

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Speaker’s Corner -

Just imag­ine, whether by magic or through po­lit­i­cal ma­noeu­vrings, if Eng­land could only get a re­match af­ter that hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat by Ice­land in the 2016 Eu­ros. Af­ter all, with just one goal sep­a­rat­ing the two sides it must have been a close re­sult. I’m sure there are many footie fans who would love the chance of a sec­ond bite - just as in the post-Brexit melt­down a num­ber of Re­main sup­port­ers have pe­ti­tioned for a sec­ond vote. But let’s be real, nei­ther will hap­pen, be­cause in com­pe­ti­tion, be that of sport­ing con­test, demo­cratic elec­tion or ref­er­en­dum, there has to be a win­ner.

Some say that democ­racy works if the right man wins, but should that be the wrong man I urge that we just ac- cept the rules of the game. I say that in light of the re­sult of our re­cent ref­er­en­dum, be­cause to be­grudge a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion would only chip away at the le­git­i­macy of this and fu­ture ref­er­enda. In­stead, is it not best to sim­ply re­flect on how we could now move for­ward to­gether and forge new, stronger re­la­tion­ships with our neigh­bours and make the best of all op­por­tu­ni­ties?

By ex­am­ple, be­fore Brexit the Con­ser­va­tive Party was split on the ref­er­en­dum is­sues, but are now rolling at full steam be­hind its new leader. They will un­doubt­edly have many chal­lenges to over­come, but the new Prime Min­is­ter has al­ready cre­ated unity and hit the ground run­ning with sup­port from both sides of the de­bate. Leave and Re­main fol­low­ers are now united to the new cause, and that leaves me hope­ful and with an op­ti­mistic vi­sion of the fu­ture.

That vi­sion, from where I stand, must first in­clude a care­ful plan to iden­tify the coun­try’s needs. The ini­tial Brexit plan was to re­gain the demo­cratic con­trol of our coun­try and the main rea­son that peo­ple voted to leave. At the high­est level, that will mean break­ing with 43 years of ties with Brus­sels and its Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions, but once that is com­plete there must be a more ur­gent call for Gov­ern­ment to ac­knowl­edge its demo­cratic ac­count­abil­ity within the UK. If it was right and proper for the elec­torate to seize con­trol by ref­er­en­dum, then it be­comes more perti­nent to make that same clam­our for a de­volve­ment of cer­tain pow­ers to lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

Peter­bor­ough it­self needs to see a vast im­prove­ment in its hous­ing, health and econ­omy. Cur­rently it is part way through a process for a com­bined au­thor­ity to ac­quire some pow­ers that would im­prove the city’s in­fra­struc­ture and give a kick-start to re­gen­er­a­tion, and I hope to see a ful­fil­ment of this plan for the sake of our de­prived ar­eas. Whether that might come through di­rect grant, govern­men­tal pow­ers or as a by-prod­uct of in­vest­ment in the busi­ness quar­ter re­mains to be seen, but it will be hard to achieve with­out a unity of minds, pur­pose and full co-oper­a­tion be­tween cen­tral and lo­cal power bases.

I know this might be a tall ask, but on its part if Gov­ern­ment would only recog­nise that lo­cal coun­cil fund­ing has been over­stretched for some con­sid­er­able time, and that our town halls need a re­newed com­mit­ment to the sup­port of fun­da­men­tal ser­vices, it would go a long way to­wards ful­fill­ing my vi­sion. With as­sur­ance that pow­ers and fund­ing be­ing re­turned from Brus­sels will not be left to re­side in West­min­ster, but will at least in part flow down to lo­cal gov­ern­ment and to those it serves, it will give us all hope for the fu­ture.

With that in place, and through strong lead­er­ship and steady, work­ing re­la­tion­ships I feel sure that our city will start to flour­ish and pros­per.

By cre­at­ing a lo­cal econ­omy to be shared by all, I would hope that even the tough­est of doubters will get on­side and cher­ish a United King­dom.

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