It’s been interesting looking at things from a different perspective over recent weeks, and speaking to locals in both my ward and the wider city to try and gauge opinion on a number of things, writes John Whitby, UKIP Councillor for Fletton & Stanground, PPC for Peterborough.
As you read this, Peterborough City Council’s budget Tranche 2 will have gone through a full council meeting where a number of ‘political’ objections will be heard, and recommendations made, in the happy knowledge that they will never be tested.
Now, I do have some serious issues with the budget, and I would hope that some of the planned changes being made there, which will affect everyone living in the city, will not come to pass, however, the big issue is simple.
The Government has taken away from us £35 million for this year’s Budget, and more next year!!
Council officers have been working hard to find ways to reduce the impact that cuts may have, but impact there will most certainly be.
Peterborough is not alone in this problem.
Many will have heard that Northamptonshire County Council effectively went bust earlier this year, and the Government put in its own commissioners, who have cut budgets hard.
Many other councils are surviving by using their reserves which obviously have a finite life!
Something needs to change, and I would point out here, that, despite cutting huge amounts (80 per cent in our case) from the Revenue Support Grant that is given to councils, the Government hasn’t cut our tax levels have they?
Councils have been allowed to raise Council Tax, and also to add on a ‘precept’ for adult social care, (something else the government is no longer paying for centrally).
But, that means that you are now paying in your council tax, a lot of the money that used to come to the councils from Income Tax.
So, the Government may say that it is not raising taxes, nor is it cutting services, and technically that’s correct.
What they are doing is raising tax by stealth, through local councils, and the councils are having to make cuts to services because the Government is keeping more of your money for its own use!
The other issue is anti-social behaviour and the perceived lack of response to it.
Having seen and reported what I believed to be a drugs exchange going on locally, I can well understand the local annoyance that this is seemingly allowed to go on, effectively unfettered.
It not only brings down the area itself, but is allowing low level crime to spiral, which leads inevitably to higher level crime – this was proven time after time in New York.
We now have greater layers of political interference and control in local policing, and also we have the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority syphoning off money for more grandiose projects.
We actually need less politics - and more action!
We need the police to be less Politically Correct and more proactive.
We need them to actually deal with crime, starting with low level crime, and delivering what communities want.