So what’s been the big the issue locally over the last week in Peterborough politics? Well it’s got to be the budget crisis facing Peterborough City Council, I guess?
After 15 years, the Tories have finally realised that there’s nothing left in the cupboard to flog and that their vote winning tactic of not proportionally raising tax locally, now means they’ll be raising it by 4% this year!
Of course, they’ll blame the decision to cut local government grants, but the problem with that is, the decision for that action comes from the Tory Government, up in Westminster! So these days, we have the Tory Council, moaning about the Tory Government and the Tory MP for the city moaning about the Tory Council etc It’s all a little too blue for me!
To put some meat on the bone in regards to how things have been reduced at the Town Hall, I thought I’d share this fact I learned the other day with you. About 6 years ago, the city council employed around 6,000 people and now in 2016, it’s about 1,600!
Elsewhere, at the latest Full Council we had some more Pottyborough politics occurring. The Tories agreed their amended Local Transport Plan, which (and remember our aspirations to become the Environment Capital of the UK); now fails, in my opinion, to prioritise public transport, cycling and walking.
No longer do they desire to have an all year round park and ride, improved bus services, new railway stations, development of an urban tram system or use of the river as a transport route. So how do they plan to deal with the expected extra 30,000 cars in the city centre in the coming years, god only knows!
Instead it’s the classic local Tory plans embroiled with short term schemes, that fail to address the long term problems.
One thing that did shock me, during the meeting was the fact that despite several leading Labour councillors standing to raise their concerns, they then went along with the Tories and voted it through. The Lib Dems, of course, stood firmly against it.
And talking of transport, one of the things that has caused the biggest amount of discussion in the city over the last few days is the issue of the Mayor’s car. Basically, the Mayor’s Jaguar is kaput, and thus the Tory controlled city council has decided to replace it with a rental option, with the cost of between £6,000 and £7,000 being covered, of course, by the local taxpayers!
This has not gone down well with people armed with concepts like common sense and fairness. I’ve spoken with local people on the street, at work, on-line and elsewhere about the issue and I’d predict about 98% of people are against the idea.
What people have said to me is, how come the councillors who decided to rip off local residents by charging £30 a year to have their brown bins collected, something previously covered by the council tax we all pay, and given that we face this massive deficit, are they still all pretending that having an expensive car, paid for by local taxpayers etc is essential to the role of Mayor?
The Mayor of London for example gets about on his bike! In other areas of the country, councils have got rid of the car all together!
What say you? Please let me know your thoughts via the letters page of this newspaper or on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/CllrDarrenFower