The decision to deploy new enforcement teams across Peterborough in a clampdown on bad parking and littering in the city has been welcomed.
Last Friday the city council announced it was planning to set up separate parking and environmental crime enforcement teams due to demands from the public for action.
The parking team will largely focus on problems outside schools, while the environmental team will initially be deployed in the worst hotspots for litter, discarded needles, graffiti and fly-tipping.
The hotspots identified by the council for enforcement are: Millfield, New England, Woodston, Westwood, Ravensthorpe and the rural areas.
Environmental enforcement largely takes place right now in and around the city centre, while parking enforcement is city-wide. No start date has been set for expanding the number of enforcement officers, but the council said it wants to “get on with it”.
Council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “It’s what people keep telling me they want. It’s worked in the city centre and it’s worked in Millfield - why should we not spread it out?”
The announcement was made by the council as part of a new set of budget measures.
The authority is setting its 2019/20 budget in three stages so savings can be implemented early, rather than having to wait until April 2019. The council, which has seen its main government grant reduced by 80 per cent in the last seven years, is expecting a deficit of £12.7 million in 2019/20.
The measures announced last Friday - which also include savings from greater homeless prevention, more resurfacing of roads (rather than patching up) and increased sharing of staff with Cambridgeshire County Council - will reduce that to £10.2 million.
Leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group Cllr Nick Sandford described wider environmental enforcement as a “positive move”, but found it “strange” that the city’s Prevention and Enforcement Service (PES) - which tackles anti-social behaviour - could now be focusing much more on illegal parking than other offences.
He said: “Having initially gone with the idea of having officers who could deal with a full array of enforcement now we want to hive off officers. I find that hard to understand.”
Labour group leader Cllr Shaz Nawaz also welcomed wider environmental enforcement and an increase in affordable housing, although he felt progress on the latter had been “insufficient”.
He said: “The devil’s in the details and we need further clarity. As a group we’re concerned that the administration is doing just enough, and nothing more, to bridge the deficit each year.”
Cllr Nawaz also called for a “robust strategic investment plan” to generate funds.
The council is budgeting to make an extra £165,000 a year from the extra enforcement which it says will be reinvested.
Enforcement against environmental crimes is carried out in the city centre - as well as an area incorporating Millfield, New England, Gladstone, Eastfield, Lower Bridge Street and the Embankment - by private firm Kingdom, which can hand out fines of £80. The council has yet to decide whether it will ask Kingdom to take on the city-wide environmental enforcement or create its own Local Authority Trading Company.
Werrington First group leader Cllr Steve Lane said he was “pleased with the positive plans for a number of issues,” such as resurfacing damaged roads and reducing the number of homeless people put up in bed and breakfast-type accommodation.
To have your say on the budget visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/budget or pick up a copy at the Town Hall, Bayard Place, or any city library.
A vote on the budget takes place at Full Council on July 25.
Meanwhile, Labour has decided to no longer take part in the council’s cross-party budget working group which discusses potential budget measures.
Cllr Nawaz said: “Past experience has led us to believe that we can make a more valuable contribution by coming up with an alternative budget."