Budget reaction: Peterborough Green Party reacts to the city council’s financial plans

Peterborough City Council’s Green Party leader Julie Howell gives her group’s reaction to Peterborough City Council’s challenging budget plans..

By Mark Edwards
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 11:15 am
Green councillors Cllr Nicola Day and Cllr Julie Howell.
Green councillors Cllr Nicola Day and Cllr Julie Howell.

Peterborough Green Party is extremely disappointed by this news.

For Peterborough residents, who may not read the local press but who walk around our city every day, the impact of these cuts will be painfully evident: streets will be dirtier, fly-tipping will be left in the environment for longer, some areas of grass will be longer, beds of wild flowers will disappear and green spaces may be left undefended.

The reduction in the tree management budget will have a negative impact on areas such as Bretton, Orton Longueville and Orton Waterville, which have the greatest tree canopy cover in the city. Residents of these areas know that lack of maintenance of shelter belts can lead to their ruin, and even present a hazard to local homes and people. We trust this reduction will not extend beyond the year proposed.

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Tree stock must be carefully managed, and this particular budget cut does seem to be at direct odds with the council’s intention to plant more trees in response to the climate emergency.

The closure of the Tourist Information Centre is another bitter blow. It is simply not true that everyone has access to online information at home or on the move. At a time where we are trying to encourage more people to visit the city, this proposal is very disappointing.

While libraries are a statutory service that the council must provide, we are very concerned by what to use seems to represent a watering down of a professionally-run service to which the residents of Peterborough should be entitled.

Libraries are not simply for the lending of fiction. They should be staffed by trained professionals who can provide residents with information to assist with their research and the management of their daily living.

The proposal to co-locate Peterborough Citizens Advice with the libraries, is interesting but the mention of volunteers in place of qualified professionals is worrying.

We are also concerned about the role that mobile vans could play in the delivery of library services to the city in the future. While mobile services play an important role in the community, library buildings are effectively community hubs (often the only community meeting place within close range of where people live).

The council must find a way to retain all of the city’s library buildings as fully-functioning libraries while also enhancing the mobile library service.

And while we are being assured that proposals to make cuts to children’s services and adult social care will not affect the standard of care, surely reductions will have some negative impact on these crucial services.

While the Green councillors have been willing to work alongside council officers on a cross-party basis to discuss the financial situation, we would make it clear that we have not held cabinet positions and therefore have never been part of the decision-making that has led the council into the dire situation that it now faces.

The Greens were made aware of the severity of the situation only recently, upon reading the CIPFA report that revealed that these problems have been developing for some time.

It is now clear that there has been a lack of direction and leadership for many years. Unfortunately, it is residents who will pay for such mistakes through increases in council tax and cuts to public services.

What a dreadful and embarrassing shame that this has come to pass.

We encourage residents to respond to the consultation. This is your city and it is desperately important that your voices are heard.

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