“This is my first year as city council leader and I am already in discussions for the 2016/17 budget,” writes John Holdich.
“Since 2010 we have lost almost 40 per cent of our Government grant. This year will be no exception, with the council facing a £18.8 million cut in its budget.
“If you lost that share of income personally you would have to consider what is most important to you. As has been the case in recent years, there will be tough decisions to be made.
“However, despite these financial pressures we are always looking to find new, innovative ways of providing services to residents that are as efficient as they are cost-effective. This week Peterborough Highways Services, our partnership with Skanska, has been using a pothole patching machine to provide preventative maintenance on our roads, pictured right.
“I have seen the machine in use and its nickname the ‘dragon’, due to its fire-emitting nozzle, is well earned!
“So how does this machine save the council money? Well, the patcher is quicker at repairs and costs are almost half those incurred using the traditional method to fix potholes.
“We are also trialling the technology alongside Cambridgeshire and Oxford councils and this demonstrates the benefits of working with the private sector to share costs between local authorities.
“So what else are we doing? In one of my recent columns I spoke about Open+, the new self-service technology operating in Peterborough’s libraries.
“The technology has enabled the council to save £305,000 a year, but the libraries all remain open, and for longer, due to the self-service facility available to members.
“This positive impact was reinforced by the visit of Ed Vaizey, the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, to Peterborough Central Library earlier this week. Mr Vaizey was particularly impressed to discover that over 6,500 members have opted in to Open+ since its implementation.
“He said other councils should look to Peterborough’s new library system as an example. High praise indeed.
“Encouraging our residents to recycle their household waste is another way to help save money. In partnership with Amey, we have just launched a recycling rewards scheme to 35,000 of the city’s households.
“The pilot ‘Love Peterborough: Love your Community Recycling Reward’ scheme aims to insensitive residents to recycle more and minimise waste. Of course, there is still waste to dispose of, and Peterborough’s new Energy Recovery Facility is set to become fully operational by the end of the year.
“We won’t be sending your black bin rubbish to landfill anymore; we’ll be using it to generate electricity. The council receives the income from the electricity which goes straight into the grid.
“This, and avoiding expensive landfill tax, will save the council around £30million over the lifetime of the plant. Income will be generated through our Empower Community solar panel scheme.
“Recently we announced the scheme was available city-wide and the response has been great with hundreds of people signing up, helping them to save money, too.
“Finally, as I mentioned earlier, we are sharing more services with other local authorities.
“This now includes our chief executive Gillian Beasley, whom I would like to wish the very best in her new role as the shared chief executive with Cambridgeshire County Council.”