I have an optimistic view of future
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.