A campaign to lobby the Government for more money to protect services in Peterborough has begun.
The 'Stand Up For Peterborough - Protect Our Vital Services' campaign launched this lunchtime (Monday, November 20) with city council leader Cllr John Holdich reaffirming his commitment to lobbying the Government for fairer funding.
Cllr Holdich said he believes the council no longer receives a fair deal and that city residents are being short-changed.
The campaign will attempt to generate public support and achieve greater awareness of the funding situation in Peterborough.
The campaign asks council staff, residents, businesses and all other interested groups to support the campaign and 'Stand Up For Peterborough'.
They can do this by writing to Cllr Holdich at the Town Hall, pledging their support for the campaign, or by posting a comment on the Stand Up For Peterborough page on the council's website at www.peterborough.gov.uk/StandUpForPeterborough.
Residents and businesses may also have their own ideas about how they can support the council's lobbying efforts.
The letters and emails will then be delivered to the Government next year to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the city.
Cllr Holdich said: "We are in the midst of our toughest budget setting process yet and the time has come for us to take a stand. We are having to do more and more with less and less money from the Government and I believe Peterborough no longer receives a fair funding deal and our residents are being short-changed.
"I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in our city in recent times, but we cannot continue to see our government funding fall at such an alarming rate and continue to provide the same level of services that we currently do for our residents.
"When you add population growth and sharp increases in demand for services we will get to the point very quickly where we will have to cut frontline services if our funding is not increased.
"I have said I will fight for our residents and lobby government for fairer funding for our city and I would be failing in my duty as leader if I did not. I have meetings arranged with our MPs, the Mayor of the Combined Authority, James Palmer, and made contact with the chairman of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, to discuss how they can all help our fight.
"We have also written to the Department for Communities and Local Government to make our disappointment clear on our funding settlement for next year.
"For our voice to be heard I need the support of as many people as possible across the city - residents, businesses and community groups. Please join our campaign and together we can stand up for Peterborough and protect our vital services."
MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya said: "People are already hurting and suffering and it will get worse. I think the penny has finally dropped.
"Unless we come together we are going to fall."
North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said: “The council has put forward a very strong case for additional funding and I hope the Government will take careful note of the points made.
"I have already discussed this issue with the leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr John Holdich, and have pledged him my full support in the efforts to secure this extra funding.”
Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Peterborough, Beki Sellick, said: "Localism is a core Lib Dem policy, giving empowerment and money to people at the lowest level. It's great we are united."
The council has a £19 million deficit to tackle for 2018/19, and proposals released earlier this month to bridge that gap included a five per cent rise in council tax for the second year running.
Since 2010 the amount of funding that all councils receive has fallen at a quick rate. In 2013/14 the council received £55 million in Revenue Support Grant, the Government grant which supports a range of council services, and this will have reduced to just £15 million in 2018/19 and then £10 million in 2019/20.
That will be a reduction of 80 per cent over seven years.
Peterborough is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, in terms of population growth, and demand for certain council services is rapidly increasing.
However, current government funding takes no account of population growth or demand levels. Instead, funding is reduced year on year.
At the same time the council has seen unprecedented increases in demand for services, such as meeting the needs of a rising number of homeless households and an ever growing number of adults and elderly people requiring care.
In terms of homelessness in particular, the council has seen a 200 per cent rise in the number of homeless families requiring temporary accommodation in just the past two years.
Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, said: "There is a real disparity when it comes to the funding we receive compared to other councils in the region. For example, we receive a Flexible Homelessness Support Grant which is based on the number of people we have in temporary accommodation.
This year Peterborough will get £489,321, yet Luton will receive £2.7 million. This is because the funding formula is based on out of date homelessness figures which do not reflect the sharp increase we have seen in Peterborough in the past two years.
"This is just one of many areas where our population growth and therefore increased demand for services is simply not reflected in our government funding."
People can pledge their support for the campaign by visiting www.peterborough.gov.uk/StandUpForPeterborough and completing an online comment form or by writing to Councillor John Holdich, Peterborough City Council, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HL.
Residents are also able to view and comment on the budget proposals by visiting the council's website - www.peterborough.gov.uk/budget.
Hard copies of the consultation document will also be available from the receptions of the Town Hall, Bayard Place and all city libraries. The consultation will close on Thursday, November 30.
Cabinet will consider comments on Monday, December 4 and Full Council will debate the proposals on Wednesday, December 13.
A further phase of proposals will be published in January which will detail further savings required to deliver a balanced budget and any changes in funding which have been announced by the Government in the Local Government Settlement between now and Christmas.