Lottery to help our good causes

John Holdich
John Holdich
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You may have heard rumours that there are plans to launch a Peterborough Lottery with proceeds supporting local community groups and charities, writes Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich.

I’m pleased to tell you it’s true and on Monday the council’s cabinet approved the plans.

This would be a low-cost, low-risk community lottery where 60 per cent of funds raised go to good causes. The rest will go towards prizes and running the project.

We will not take a penny of the profits made from the lottery, but it will allow us to spend less of our ever dwindling budget on community grants.

That way we have more money to spend on the services that we have a duty to provide for our residents, in particular protecting and caring for the elderly, young and vulnerable.

Tickets would be sold online for £1 and the draw would be weekly with a guaranteed jackpot of £25,000 and a range of smaller prizes on offer too.

We now await full authorisation from the Gambling Commission to go ahead with the lottery, with a view to launching in the autumn.

Running a lottery is an idea that I saw was working well in Aylesbury Vale at last year’s Local Government Association conference.

In its first year, the Aylesbury Vale District Council lottery generated over £70,000 for local good causes, exceeding all original targets. Over 150 good causes are already signed up and benefitting from the lottery there.

Although we currently give money to a number of good causes, with council funding reducing all the time we are limited to the amount we can offer and the number of groups we can support.

We know there are many other groups and organisations that would benefit from funding if we could offer it and a lottery will allow us to do so. Of course, gambling has to be regulated, so we will contribute to the support of problem gambling in a range of ways including considering a maximum cap on the number of tickets that a person can buy.

However, guidance by the Gambling Commission states that lotteries are considered to be low risk in terms of encouraging people to take up gambling. If just 0.5 per cent of our population who will be eligible to play the Peterborough Lottery did so, it would generate a benefit to the community of £22,000.

That’s a fantastic amount which could have huge benefits to our residents.

This week we announced the site for a new hydrotherapy pool and relocated Heltwate Special School.

Both facilities will open by September 2019 at the former Perkins Sports Ground on Newark Road.

Essential repairs and refurbishment of the existing St George’s Community Hydrotherapy Pool on Dogsthorpe Road is also progressing well, with it due to reopen by the end of September. Many people rely on hydrotherapy sessions to manage their pain and health conditions.

At the time the pool closed in March because of a leak, in the region of 250 people were using it on a weekly basis.

It is for this reason we have committed to building a new pool in the city, in the knowledge that the St George’s pool is nearing the end of its life.

We will shortly be starting to work closely with the pool’s steering and user groups to design a modern facility for the wider community.

I’m not usually spotted in nightclubs these days, but I had a great time last week at Lava Lamp at Club Caliente in Parnwell.

The club meets regularly and is run by people with learning disabilities for people with learning disabilities. The man who set the club up, Vincenzo Petruziello, invited me along to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

I met Enzo 30 years ago and he does a fantastic job championing the rights of people with learning disabilities.

It was a great night and everyone had a fantastic time. If you’d like more information you can follow Lava Lamp on Facebook.

It was good to see that the Peterborough Telegraph’s Head of Comedic Content is now in place and already poking fun at the council by inventing some new ‘jobs’ last week.

With councils across the country notorious for long-winded titles it was excellent banter but for those that didn’t get it - it wasn’t true.

We are most definitely not appointing an officer to monitor the salaries of senior officers!