Peterborough City Council leader Marco Cereste gives his view on the council and news and issues affecting you...
It’s becoming rare to find someone who isn’t on social media. I admit it took me a while to get to grips with it, but I’m proud to say I have Facebook and Twitter accounts – in fact I have more than 1,300 Twitter followers!
Like it or not, it’s where people are having conversations and expressing their opinions, in the same way you would if you saw someone in the street or post office.
If you follow the council on Twitter, then you might have noticed that we tweeted throughout yesterday with the #OurDay. The annual campaign is run by the Local Government Association and the Knowledge Hub and involves councils tweeting for 24 hours about the breadth of services our staff provide for people.
Everyone knows that we empty bins, fill potholes and educate children – but I bet there aren’t many people who understand the true scale of the services we provide. The fact is that we do a huge amount of work for our communities but this is not always clear for everyone to see.
Did you know that our gritting fleet looks after 438km of road 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout winter? You may not have considered it, but when you wake up on Christmas morning, or when you come in late from a night out, they’re on duty then too. We’re responsible for a total road network of 930km, which we monitor for potholes and defects, and we maintain 24,000 street lights.
For our younger residents, we support families with the cost of childcare, provide school places for every child that requires one and we care for children that are not able to live with their birth families. We intervene when there are concerns about the safety of a child, we work with young people who are offending or at risk of offending and recently we have invested huge amounts of time and money into tackling child sexual exploitation and supporting victims of this awful crime.
We help people who have learning and physical disabilities to gain employment and live independently, we care for older residents in their own homes and in sheltered and residential schemes and help people to lead healthier lives. Last year alone we helped 1,367 people quit smoking.
We manage 25 allotments, 12 car parks and have registered 4,460 births and 2,018 deaths so far this year.
And who do you think it is that cleans the 400-odd pieces of graffiti off public land and empties the 6 million residential bins each year? Who do you think hosts the many events and festivals in our city centre and makes our city look so festive at this time of year?
We do all of this, and much more.
Many of these services we have to provide by law, which makes the task of working out how we spend our money even tougher as we have very little room for manoeuvre.
It’s a tough job when you consider that for 2015/16 we have to make savings of £25million to balance our books following a cut in government funding of nearly 40 per cent since 2010 and an increased demand for services.
We run and manage a huge number of services for our residents and the city as a whole. Yes, we are being forced to make some difficult decisions, and not everyone will get the outcome they want, but the fact is that Peterborough is still a great place to live, work and visit.
If you haven’t done so already, please take part in our Budget Conversation so that we can hear your views on our first phase budget proposals and understand which services matter to you the most when shaping our second phase proposals.
You can take part in the Budget Conversation on our website or by picking up a hard copy from libraries or from Bayard Place or Town Hall receptions.
We can only understand how you feel if you tell us, so please take the time to do so.