Tough decisions have to be made

City centre traffic congestion during the new Bourges Boulevard roadworks EMN-180602-123019009
City centre traffic congestion during the new Bourges Boulevard roadworks EMN-180602-123019009

Last week we announced the final part of our consultation to deliver a balanced budget for the year ahead, writes leader of Peterborough City Council cllr John Holdich.

Our financial situation and the challenges we are facing are well documented, but worth re-emphasising.

We are working to close a £24 million gap and protect the council’s long term financial health from further cuts in government funding.

Having looked extensively at all possible options for savings and income generation, we are regrettably having to consider more difficult decisions, such as raising council tax.

I am writing this column before the budget has been officially approved by full council, but you may be aware that we are proposing a council tax rise of 5.99 per cent.

This planned increase includes an Adult Social Care precept of three per cent and I wanted to outline a bit more detail about this aspect and why we are proposing it.

As part of the Local Government Provisional Finance settlement for 2017/18, local authorities were given the option to levy a three per cent precept on residents in both 2017/18 and 2018/19, removing the ability to levy an Adult Social Care Precept in 2019/20.

We have fully applied these amounts, so I want to emphasise that this precept will be for next year only.

The money it generates can only be spent on Adult Social Care, a service which is facing substantial and ever-increasing demand. To give this some context, for the coming year (2018/19) our Adult Social Care bill will be £46million.

Our budget consultation runs until March 5 and it is important that we gain as many opinions as possible, so please let us know your views. You can do this by visiting our website www.peterborough.gov.uk.

It will shortly be one year since the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority was founded.

The organisation is made up of seven local authorities in the region, including ourselves and is focused on delivering improved infrastructure and economic growth.

So far, Peterborough has done very well as a result of this, having received several multi-million pound funding grants for various projects, and I’m confident we will attract substantial funding in the future.

These include a number of road building schemes such as improvements to the Nene Parkway, A47, A16 and Oundle Road.

We’ve also secured £6.5 million to support the University of Peterborough project and £1.85 million for new affordable homes, which will result in 95 new properties being built.

A vital new development to help meet the city’s growth ambitions has received a huge boost with the announcement of Government funding.

The £4.57 million funding from the Housing Infrastructure Funding (HIF) will be used to create the Yaxley Link Road, which will enable the delivery of a key housing site in the south of Peterborough, unlocking 5,350 new homes.

Peterborough Highway Services is to design and build the 1.5km single carriageway road with work due to start early next year.

We can all look forward to seeing the completion of a major development which will benefit our residents for years to come.

Motorists in the city will no doubt have noticed that work is under way to improve access to the Virgin Trains car park in Bourges Boulevard, close to the railway station.

This will see new ramped access created as well as a right turn lane and a pedestrian crossing. The works will be carried out over the next 23 weeks. Once completed, it will open up the future development potential of the site and will improve the long-term traffic flow.

I would ask drivers to bear this in mind and we apologise for the inconvenience caused. It is worth visiting our website and Facebook/Twitter accounts to keep up to speed with how the work is progressing and what lane closures are in place for certain times.