I wrote last week about devolution, and have been reflecting on my comments – particularly as some councils and councillors have become distracted by the notion of a directly elected Mayor, rather than whether the offer presents a good deal for the city.
You might remember the Regional Development Agencies, set up under Labour, that were later abolished by the coalition government. Those agencies had no democratic control, and appointments were made by government to key roles within them, including Chairman. Many of the Councillors now complaining about a directly elected Mayor also complained about the lack of democracy in those agencies.
In the current scenario, a Mayor of a Combined Authority would be elected by residents in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This Council keeps its sovereignty intact and has to consent to any of its powers being given to the Mayor. In the government’s offer, most of the Mayor’s proposed powers will come from government, as the term devolution implies.
Some have called for an extraordinary meeting. That is in the hands of the Mayor and our legal officer, as proper advice must be sought on whether a meeting can be held during the pre-election period known as purdah.
My plea is this. Let’s have a proper and fully informed debate about the offer from government, based on the facts. Even more importantly, let’s allow Peterborough residents, business and all other vital Peterborough organisations to be consulted and have a say on whether or not this offer is right for the city.
A wonderful opportunity to refresh our city and reinvigorate our communities for the year ahead is about to begin; our spring clean programme starts next month, to provide targeted cleaning in all wards and tackle littering, graffiti and fly tipping.
We’ve listened to residents’ concerns about littering and are investing in an extensive spring clean operation for each of the next five years.
We’ll also use the opportunity to push the message that people should care about our shared environment and take pride in the city in which we live.
I’m pleased to say we’ve invested in five new Glutton waste collection machines, bringing our total of these amazing one-man operations to ten. The machines can get through five times more cleaning than the traditional operative with a waste cart and broom, meaning a much greater area of our city can be cleaned in the same time.
Our partners Amey will also be contributing to the programme, working to provide general information and awareness about any forms of anti-social behaviour, and helping with possible prosecutions going forward.
As, locally, things start gearing up towards elections, world events this week have once again given us an important sense of perspective. Our hearts go out to the people of Brussels and our thoughts are with them as they come to terms with what has happened. We must all stand together with other nations across Europe – and the world – in the face of this ongoing threat.