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The Candidate Interviews: Andrew Pakes - Labour (Peterborough)

Andrew Pakes (Photo: CambsNews)

Andrew Pakes, the Labour candidate for Peterborough, wants to rebuild the city “in a way that works for young people and working people” if he’s elected.


“I love living in Peterborough - we’re a great city, but life has gotten tougher for people, whether that's cost of living, the cost of transport, waiting lists in the NHS.


“I think this election is about getting Peterborough back on its feet.” 


He described the NHS as one of the top priorities in the upcoming general election, saying: “Labour will put rebuilding the NHS at the front of our agenda for Peterborough and across the country.


“We would finally deliver the new (community) diagnostic centre to do scans and tests, so that we can take pressure off the hospital and cut waiting lists.”


Mr Pakes committed that this diagnostic centre would be set up over the next year.


He recognised people’s difficulty securing GP appointments “with the 8am scramble on telephone calls,” and said that Labour would create 40,000 more appointments every week.


Mr Pakes said this would be done through working with NHS staff, as well as reforming GP practices.


The Labour candidate described Peterborough as “one of the worst dental deserts in the country, and we would put in place an emergency dental plan to get people more NHS dentists.”


On housing, Mr Pakes said: “We've got to start building more genuinely affordable homes - unless we build more and bring the cost of housing down, it's gonna be harder for the next generation to get on in life.


“We need to build more social and affordable housing so that you get quality standards, and the opportunity to get on the housing ladder at a point that suits you.”


Mr Pakes expressed that home ownership shouldn’t just be an ambition for later life.


He described the Conservative government’s failure to ban no fault evictions for renters as “a crying shame”.


“Labour will reform the rental market to protect renters and to help manage prices - the cost and insecurity of renting is eye watering for many young people.”


Mr Pakes described climate change as a hugely important issue. 


“Just these last few months, we've had intolerably wet weather, and I've met with farmers who have had trouble starting their harvest because the crops are too wet.


“We have a genuine target we can work towards to decarbonise our economy and play our part locally and on the global stage, to cut carbon emissions and deal with climate change.”


To work towards these targets, Mr Pakes said Labour would “set up Great British Energy, a publicly-owned energy company which can work with local areas like ours to provide insulation and energy reducing measures in households.


“It would also ensure that we're playing our part as a country building, developing and deploying renewable energy.”


He praised the work Peterborough College has done to support the transition towards a greener economy.


“Peterborough is well-placed to develop new green jobs, so we support local jobs as well as dealing with the climate emergency.”


Mr Pakes gave the examples of electric vehicle engineering and maintenance, and developing green hydrogen technology.


He married investment in green industries to national security, stating: “We have left ourselves at the mercy of global markets for too long.


“When Russia invaded Ukraine, it allowed President Putin to put his foot on our throat over energy,” before saying that not only should the UK be generating more renewable energy, but it should be growing more of its own food too.


To tackle the youth mental health crisis, the Labour candidate said: “Labour will invest in mental health provision, including putting professional specialised mental health nurses in all secondary schools.


“That would provide students at school the option to have someone to talk to, get professional advice and provide support at what we know can often be an anxious or high pressure time for many students.”


Mr Pakes disagrees with national service for young people, claiming: “Young people are already intimately involved in their communities - the national service commitment doesn’t address the issues facing young people.”


He also said that Labour would prioritise rebuilding mental health provision within the NHS as a whole.


In terms of education, Andrew Pakes stated that Labour would turn the page on education at all levels.


He cited the high levels of child poverty in parts of Peterborough, and pledged free breakfast clubs in primary schools to combat this.


The Labour candidate added: “We would provide 6,500 new teachers in specialised subjects with shortages across the country and over time, we seek to increase that further.”


Mr Pakes’s party would also invest in more “careers services staff, so that young people in secondary school can get proper careers advice, whether that’s about university, going into the world of work, or doing an apprenticeship.”


He has also pledged to double the number of apprenticeships in Peterborough, and to further expand ARU Peterborough “so we have a home-grown university option”.


Addressing crime, Andrew Pakes stated: “We’re going to invest in neighbourhood policing - that’s 13,000 new police officers across the country to patrol areas and get to know places like schools and universities.


“We need to be listening to students so we can design street lighting and safety measures in the places students go, not just places where other parts of the community are based.”


Mr Pakes said that Labour would seek to ban some of the dangerous weapons that nobody on the streets should be in possession of.




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