Opinion: Savings need to be investigated
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The "disposals" list remained secret for too long but now it’s out in the open and councillors, operators of community centres and residents can have an honest and open debate about it. I am disappointed that Paston Farm community centre in my ward is on the list for disposal, although the report does say that a lot more discussion and thought is needed before any decisions are made.
I am strongly urging the Council to save Paston Farm from closure. It is more than just a community centre; it is the heart and soul of our ward. Closing it would be a tremendous loss for our community.
Paston Farm's community cafe provides hot meals at a reasonable price, fostering a sense of belonging for all who visit. The community fridge addresses food insecurity, ensuring that nobody in our ward goes hungry. Closing it would leave a void that cannot be easily filled.
While tough decisions must be made, we must consider the long-term impact on our community. Closing Paston Farm would dismantle a support system that has transformed lives and restored hope. I want the Council to look beyond the numbers and statistics and preserve this haven of support and nourishment for our community.
One of my roles on the Council is as vice-chair of the Climate and Environment Scrutiny Committee. A recent recommendation by the committee caused a lot of comment on Facebook, although it was agreed unanimously by councillors of all parties. The committee recommended that council officers consider doing a small trial to find out whether providing residents with smaller black bins for non-recyclable waste could significantly increase our recycling rates and save valuable resources.
Currently, our recycling rate stands at 42 percent, which falls short compared to the top-performing councils that have achieved rates above 62 per cent or more. It was identified that all of the top ten councils for recycling have smaller black bins than the ones we have in Peterborough. Council officers estimated that if our recycling rate could be increased by 20 percentage points to that of the top performers, then we could save £1.4 million each year, which is the equivalent of a 2 per cent cut in the rate of Council Tax. Black bin waste goes to our incinerator which is very expensive to operate and produces vast amounts of Carbon dioxide, which contributes significantly to climate change.
So what is being suggested is only a trial of smaller bins and other factors such as the cost of new bins and the needs of larger households will have to be taken into account. Top performing councils also do other things such as offering collections of textiles and small electrical items, so maybe that’s something else that should be considered in Peterborough. I imagine many single people and pensioners might welcome having a smaller black bin but finding that out could be part of the trial. It’s a key part of “Scrutiny” to ask questions and make suggestions to Council decision makers: so a change that can potentially save lots of money and massively benefit the environment is surely something that should at least be investigated.
As Liberal Democrat councillors, we will always strive to ensure that the Council fully consults with residents before implementing any changes to bin collection regimes.