Opinion: Election fever kicks off in Peterborough this week’

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

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 12:45 pm
Election fever will be in full swing.

Election fever has started it seems as we officially move into the pre-election period this week and it’s the time when people wanting to stand as candidates on May 5 can get their nomination papers in to do so.

If you’re interested in standing, the deadline is April 5 at 4pm – find out more on the council’s website.

Of course, in the next few weeks, you’ll have all the usual suspects making all the usual promises that they simply can’t deliver on. Only the Conservatives have year after year delivered for the city, in housing, jobs and economic growth, which is why things are booming in Peterborough.

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Conversely, opposition parties have contributed nothing apart from putting the council at serious risk of government intervention in the past few weeks. Their refusal to support the budget has caused serious reputational damage to them and the city with government and they should feel ashamed of themselves for putting politics before the people of Peterborough.

I also find it astonishing that the leader of the Labour Party in Peterborough indicated he would not increase Council Tax, however, makes no mention of where he would get the £2.655 million from to fill the hole in the budget that his proposal would create. But that’s typical of Labour – they offer no real solutions only soundbites and just want to spend, spend, spend.

It’s worth remembering that we have £55m less coming to the council than we did 10 years ago, and we must manage services with a substantially reduced budget. So far, we have done this well; if there is criticism – it is that we did not cut things sooner because we chose to protect services that people rely on in our city. We will continue to do all we can to maintain this approach.

I can say for sure that the future of our city and its finances are safe in the Conservatives’ hands as we move forward with our plans to make the council financially sustainable.

Over the coming weeks I am sure I will talk to many of you along with my Conservative colleagues as we work to get your continued support on May 5.

With the price of everyday items and commodities going up, we are all feeling the pinch right now, including me, as the cost of living continues to rise across the UK.

I understand how difficult it is for families at this time and there are several ways people can access more vital support.

We run LEAP, which is a free fuel poverty outreach service, and anyone struggling to pay their household bills may be eligible for additional support through this, including help to pay bills or funding for internal and external installations.

More details on this can be found by visiting www.applyforleap.org.uk or calling 0800 060 7567.

There is also the Peterborough Community Assistance Scheme, details of which can be found our website. This includes information on how to get emergency food and household goods, as well as advice lines.

As a council we administered the Household Support Scheme between October and February 2022 which supported 7,800 residents with food, fuel and essential supplies, and we are now issuing Council Tax rebates of £150 on behalf of the government for households in Council Tax bands A to D. If you pay by direct debit this will be paid to you directly, so now is a good time to sign up!

I would urge anyone in difficulties to come to us for help, or to visit the Peterborough Information Network, which includes links to several organisations which offer a range of assistance. The website for the network is https://fis.peterborough.gov.uk/.

Last Friday as promised I had the Embankment Masterplan published which shows an option with an arena and an option without.

Over the past few days, it has already renewed debate on what might be the best use for the Embankment land. We will now, over the summer, take stock of the contents and move forward with any ideas or plans that come out of it, if appropriate.

But let me be clear, the council is not building a multi-use arena or stadium, nor will we be financing one or giving away any land. The onus will be upon others to bring forward a planning application at the appropriate time.

It was great to see that Anna’s Hope will remain the main charity and beneficiary of the Great Eastern 5k fun run when it returns in October. Anna’s Hope is a great charity which raises vital funds to support children and young people who are diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The event will kick off with the Anna’s Hope 5k fun run at 10am on October 16, before the wheelchair half marathon at 10.25am and the half marathon at 10.30am. Entries are now open for all distances – sign up at www.greateasternrun.co.uk

And finally, some good news for gardeners, we have a date for the return of garden waste collections!

Brown bin collections have been suspended since September, due to issues caused by the national driver shortage. The temporary suspension ensured the continuation of essential recycling, refuse and food waste collections.

However, the council and its waste contractor, Aragon Direct Services, are now able to resume collections from the week starting Monday, May 2.

Recurring direct debit customers will not need to renew their subscriptions and the council will be contacting these customers with details about the service for 2022/23. Customers who are not paying by recurring direct debit will need to subscribe.

Anyone who would like to sign up for 2022/23 can do so from Monday. The quickest way is at www.peterborough.gov.uk/brownbins.