This week I launched a campaign which calls for fairer funding from the government and crucially for the support of as many people as possible in getting our voice heard.
The campaign asks everyone in the city - residents, businesses, council staff, community groups and organisations - to do something very simple, Stand Up For Peterborough and Protect Our Vital Services.
The time has come for us all to take a stand, a united stand, regardless of our political allegiance. I owe it to the people of Peterborough to lobby government and I would be failing in my duty as leader if I did not.
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.
For our voice to be heard, and for this to be reflected in our government funding, I need the support of as many of you as possible.
It is so important for us to join together in a campaign such as this, so I was pleased to see council staff, residents, people representing charities, businesses and community groups, the Mayor, Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya and representatives of most of the political groups on the council attend the launch event outside the Town Hall on Monday.
It’s fantastic to get this kind of cross-party support on an issue and the fact we have shows how severe the situation has become in all our minds.
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. Our government grant, the Revenue Support Grant, will have reduced by 80 per cent over seven years by 2019/20 with no regard for our huge population growth and the unprecedented increase in demand for our services.
How can it be right that places such as Luton receive more than five times as much in their Flexible Homelessness Support Grant, when our homeless situations are very similar? It’s because the funding formula is based on out of date homelessness figures which do not reflect the sharp increase we have seen in Peterborough in the past two years - but this disparity cannot be allowed to continue.
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.
If the government does not recognise flaws in our funding such as this, we could get to the point very quickly where we need to cut frontline services to balance the budget. I don’t want this, neither do any of my fellow councillors and neither, I hope, do you.
You can support Stand Up For Peterborough by posting a comment on the Stand Up For Peterborough page on the council’s website at www.peterborough.gov.uk/StandUpForPeterborough or by writing to me at the Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HL. Residents and businesses may also have their own ideas about how they can support our lobbying efforts - please get in touch if you do.
You can also keep up to date with the campaign by following @PeterboroughCC on Twitter and on Facebook. We’re posting lots of content which explains the funding pressures we are under and the support we are achieving for the campaign. Together we can Stand Up For Peterborough, say no to more cuts and protect our vital services.