Opinion: ‘Doing all we can to tackle flytipping in Peterborough’

Wayne Fitzgerald, city council leader and Conservative group leader on Peterborough City Council writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 1:45 pm
Fly-tipping reported by residents in Millfield.
Fly-tipping reported by residents in Millfield.

I’m pleased to feedback that we’re making good progress in closing the gap in our budget for next year (2022/23) and I’m confident we will get to where we need to be.

As I have said many times, there will be some difficult decisions to be made in the short-term as we look to achieve financial stability in the longer term.

We will announce our second phase of proposals (Friday, January 21) which will look to close the £17million gap in our budget and I’ll be publishing a video blog that day to tell you more about our plans.

For the past decade or more we have faced difficult financial circumstances due to a growing population needing more services and delivering this with significantly reduced Government funding.

And of course, most recently, coping with the added pressures caused by a global pandemic.

At the meeting of full council in December we set out how we arrived at the financial position we find ourselves in today.

So, for the record, as I am fed up of opposition parties in this very paper pointing the finger of blame wholly at the Conservative group and criticising our handling of the council’s budget.

It is worth noting that we have done all that we can to protect and maintain council services, whilst at the same time keeping Council Tax as low as we could for people, knowing that Peterborough has a low wage economy and many struggle to make ends meet.

Not once do I recall opposition parties proposing to cut services – in fact they did the very opposite!

They wanted to spend more money that we simply did not, and do not, have.

I also don’t remember them calling for large increases in Council Tax, so whilst I, on behalf of the Conservative group, will take some responsibility for the council’s current financial position, opposition parties must do the same.

They fail to mention 21 years of unprecedented growth which has seen the city prosper with more housing, new schools and better job prospects – all delivered by a Conservative administration.

The opposition continues to bleat on about how it’s “all our fault” and how they are ready to take the reins at the town hall in May, but they fail to come up with one single policy idea or explain what they would do differently.

-Turning to other typical matters, the front page of last week’s newspaper included a story about flytipping being at record levels in the city. Let’s be perfectly blunt here – it’s not the council that flytips, it’s people you may know.

There is increasing pressure on our budget and flytipping only makes matters worse as it costs more money to clear up the waste people dump. We are doing all we can to stay on top of it, but in many cases, it’s a total disregard for social responsibility and often caused by a lack of education.

I would urge everyone not only to report flytipping so we can remove it as quickly as possible, but to be vigilant and encourage their neighbours, relatives and people around them to dispose of their waste in a responsible manner.

And be prepared to report those that don’t to the council!

I also believe there needs to be a change in the law so that we can take tougher action leading to higher penalties. Currently it can cost the council, and you as taxpayers, more money to prosecute someone than the fine received by the perpetrator.

This cannot continue, something must change.

But please, do not look to shame the council for flytipping, as one resident did when they asked me to “pull my finger out and sort it out” – I do not fly tip, nor does the council!

We have dedicated teams who are doing a sterling job but it’s almost impossible to stay on top of it.

- On a more upbeat note. I received a letter this week from Michael Gove MP which outlines what great celebrations there will be for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

There is a website where you can find out more about the many ways people can get involved, perhaps by organising a street party, taking part in the Big Jubilee Lunch or planting a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (I planted one not long ago in Central Park). National Lottery funding is also being made available to help communities come together for the celebration.

l And, finally, our Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a visit to the vaccination centre in the old Next store in Queensgate last Thursday and got a warm welcome from many including volunteers and those getting vaccinated. He also spent time on a video conference with health professionals from Peterborough City Hospital to hear first-hand the challenges they are experiencing with the Omicron variant.

Although the new variant appears milder, the Government recognises the strain it’s putting on the NHS and the impact on the national economy and is doing all it can to help counter this, including new business grant schemes which the council will be awarding to businesses which make successful applications.

There are three grants in total, including an Omicron grant for businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors of up to £6,000. You can find out more on the Covid-19 section of the council’s website www.peterborough.gov.uk

I know our city’s bars, cafes and hotels were not as busy as they normally are in the run-up to Christmas and this grant is designed to go some way to alleviate the financial pressures experienced.