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Flytipping, resident parking and speeding: issues facing new councillor in East ward

In a close contest, Conservative candidate Jackie Allen was voted in as the new councillor for East ward last month just weeks after her last-minute nomination.
Jackie Allen
Jackie Allen, Conservative councillor for East ward

She is the wife of Steve Allen, the council's deputy leader, and has been working behind the scenes for the Conservative Party in the city. 

The 56-year-old said she had not considered putting herself forward as a councillor as she preferred being behind the scenes. 

But the original candidate had to pull out due to ill health so she decided to step in because the East ward is familiar territory for her, as she grew up in and attended school in the area. 

Peterborough Matters caught up with her at Central Park to discuss her priorities and goals for the area. 

“I am familiar with this area," she said. 

"I grew up in this part of the city. The area has a very diverse community and I like that: Europeans, Asian, Pakistanis, Afghanistan - so many different communities live here together. 

“Some people living in these properties need additional support. We need to review if we are doing enough for them.  

“Since starting the role, it’s been quite busy. Residents' parking is a big issue in the ward, particularly the part near the park. 

“When they come home from work they are struggling to find a parking spot near their property - residents' parking doesn't guarantee a spot near the house. But we are looking at how and if we can make additional parking in the area to support the residents.  

“The other big issue is flytipping - Star Mews and Burton Street are some of the hotspots for it. We have flytipping reported every other day and we are looking at introducing further cameras."

We asked if stricter laws needed to be enforced. 

“We need to get right education in place,"said Allen. 

"Covid has made enforcement a challenge. So where repeat behaviour has been allowed to occur, we need to educate people - it's not OK to put rubbish at the end of the street.

“If it costs [the] council X amount to clear the rubbish but people are only fined a couple of hundred pounds for the crime, then where's the deterrent? 

"Fines and punishments need to fit the crime. I am a believer, if you jump on things as it happens, and you fix it immediately, it deters the rogue element in society. And I am hoping that's where I can make a difference. 

“I am fortunate I have some really good people living in the ward who inform me of issues, send me videos. Between us, we are acting on it in a prompt and efficient way. This might help make people think of their actions.” 

Allen and her husband run an entertainment business together, and she said she hoped to bring her business skills into her new role. 

“I don't want to be sending an email repeatedly," she said.

“I want to see some sort of schedule.  

"Speeding is a concern in some areas of the ward. In my view, in all of the side streets like Padholme Road and Star Road, 20mph is plenty. I have been down there where cars are just going too fast. It's dangerous. The roads are narrow. Will speed bumps help - I don’t know. 

“These concerns have been brought to me from residents who are having to pay high car insurance if you stay in a PE1 postcode. Car wing mirrors are being damaged. Some of the layout on these streets is questionable.  

"But the budget needs to be put back in. Some of the streets where there are planters are not even attractive. They become mini skips for litter and for rats. They probably need removing, and maybe increase parking spaces.  

“I am working on some budgets to get them removed on Star Road, we will understand what it will cost to remove them and if and how many parking spaces they might create.” 

Allen shared her immediate goals for the ward and what she wants to improve in the near future. 

“I want to see more apps - like the Fixmystreet app - only certain departments can see that. And they can close it off before the other person knows if it’s been taken care [of] or not. I have queried that, it slips through the net. It can’t happen, you can't assume the next person has followed through. 

"We had observations that through Covid, Zoom meetings and online discussions are becoming appealing to a wider audience, including younger people. We as a council I am sure can also open up. It’s all about engagement. 

“I have an amazing team. Mohammed Ikram is so passionate and works so hard, Dominic Pierra, he cares a lot about the community and wants to see a councillor who is actually working. They want an area where their kids can play outside safely.  

“We need the officers to support us with that. So far, it’s been good. We need to have a proper structure and not just firefight, you are not going to improve anything.  

“Going forward, I want to see houses stopped from being turned into HMOs [houses of multiple occupancy]. We need family homes in the area so that’s a goal.  

 “Another goal is to see a define improvement to the flytipping situation, Bulky waste is not sustainable in the long run.”