Town hall lead­ers: Shape up or go

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Westminster Life - Ste­wart Jack­son

Many MPs would back their lo­cal coun­cil how­ever use­less and in­ef­fi­cient it was. Sorry - my loy­alty it to my con­stituents: hard­work­ing, de­cent and in­creas­ingly ir­ri­tated tax­pay­ers.

And I tell it like it is. Credit where it’s due. Brick­bats where needed.

I just hap­pen to have a Con­ser­va­tive Coun­cil but it’s no con­so­la­tion that Labour would be even (a lot) worse.

The de­ci­sion of the Pe­ter­bor­ough City Coun­cil Plan­ning Com­mit­tee this week, on the ba­sis of a flawed and in­ac­cu­rate re­port, to in­flict a com­pletely un­suit­able trav­eller en­camp­ment on Eye Green res­i­dents, was ap­palling, if not sur­pris­ing.

That is to dig­nify the cha­rade - it was a knob­bled jury - as the de­ci­sion had al­ready been taken in a pre meet­ing to push it through, by the coun­cil of­fi­cers and the ubiq­ui­tous Cllr Hiller, ir­re­spec­tive of the “de­bate” and in com­plete dis­re­gard of lo­cal peo­ple, us­ing the du­bi­ous and deeply dodgy ra­tio­nale of the “hu­man rights” Act

Hu­man rights ap­par­ently only ap­plies to gypsy and trav­eller ap­pli­ca­tions, not to the set­tled com­mu­nity it seems. The area is awash with trav­eller sites al­ready but re­ally, “Who cares? It’s not in my ward” was the mes­sage.

In a way, it’s re­ally a mi­cro­cosm of Pe­ter­bor­ough City Coun­cil: Over­paid and com­pla­cent of­fi­cers run­ning the show, sub­stan­dard coun­cil­lors not up to the job, no real po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, poor pol­icy de­vel­op­ment, lit- tle imag­i­na­tion and next to no vi­sion.

Can you hear me Cllr Holdich?

Whin­ing about the gov­ern­ment doesn’t cover up your ad­min­is­tra­tion’s record of cock ups - the En­ergy Park (good­bye £3.2 mil­lion of pub­lic money), the worst SATs in Eng­land (Holdich blames EU mi­grants but cam­paigned for a Re­main vote in the EU ref­er­en­dum - fig­ure that one out), flail­ing around try­ing to de­velop a trav­ellers pol­icy (un­suc­cess­fully), Chil­dren’s Ser­vices fre­quently on the brink of chaos (though mer­ci­fully im­proved now), an­nual bud­get deficits and con­tract cost over­runs, un­nec­es­sar­ily de­lay­ing se­lec­tive li­cens­ing to tackle slum land­lords, only af­ter al­low­ing a chunk of the city to de­scend into slum sta­tus over the last few years and presid- ing over a sham­bolic hous­ing ben­e­fit cri­sis, blam­ing Uni­ver­sal Credit changes and the so-called bed­room tax (even when prais­ing it to me for re­leas­ing 200 plus new homes for needy peo­ple a few days be­fore!) but with­out any ev­i­dence to prove it.

Still Team Holdich are quick to pray in aid fall­ing job­less­ness and NEETs, ris­ing em­ploy­ment, new pri­vate sec­tor jobs and homes and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture like Pe­ter­bor­ough rail­way sta­tion.

Who do they think helped de­liver these wider eco­nomic ben­e­fits? Clue: They’re in gov­ern­ment.

My mes­sage is clear to both se­nior of­fi­cers and coun­cil­lors: Shape up, raise your game, quit the whinging and show some lead­er­ship or make way for peo­ple who can.

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