Budget Conversation – have your say

Town HallUpdate 17th November – Did you hear Radio Cambridgeshire debate today?

You’ll recall I challenged the Labour, Liberals Democrats, Independents and UKIP councillors in opposition to work with us on the budget proposals but as predicted all they could bang on about this morning was how this was a disastrous budget for Peterborough. However, when asked about the cross party talks only one party could offer an idea to help save a small amount of money.

The Labour party spokesman advised they had told the Leader of the council how to save the money required and it was up to him to tell the rest of us. What?

The Independents including the new UKIP members hadn’t any real idea how to save any money.

The Liberal Democrats did suggest we stop cutting the grass to save ‘less than a million’.

So lets recap. We need to save £25M and between them the complete opposition to the current Conservative administration have suggested a saving of about £1M! So that just leaves £24M to go then?

Honestly, anyone who has one of these opposition members as their local councillor should seriously be asking them what the point is of them being an elected councillor if this is the best they can do? They were elected to represent their ward and our city and work to make it a success, not stand on the sidelines and just object to everything in this budget proposal without offering any tangible alternatives.

I now challenge all opposition parties to publicly publish their own ‘fully costed’ alternative budget instead of just opposing what’s on the table. No councillor can walk away from this and the Conservatives won’t because its our duty no matter how unpopular it is, to deliver a balanced fully costed budget.

Peterborough City Council has seen its government funding cut by nearly 40 per cent in the five years up to the end of 2015/16 – that’s £44million.

The budget proposals document sets out the first of two sets of budget proposals that will be considered by Cabinet to ensure Peterborough City Council has a balanced budget for 2015/16.

Budget Doc Link

In the next financial year the council will see its government grant reduced by £12.3million. This is on top of financial pressures of £12.5million as a result of an increasing demand for services and legal changes. This means we face an enormous challenge of finding savings of nearly £25million to balance our books, while continuing to invest in the city to ensure it is a great place to live, work, visit and stay.

Savings of £16.8million have been identified and these proposals will go before Cabinet on Monday 24 November 2014 for initial consideration. However, savings totalling a further £8million will have to be made to balance the council’s budget for 2015/16. A second set of proposals outlining how this additional £8million can be achieved will be published in January 2015.

As a result, we want to understand your views on the first round of budget proposals Friday 14 November. In addition, there are some services where we have some flexibility over the level of service we provide. We want to understand which of these services matter to you the most, so that we can consider this when drafting our second round of proposals to identify the remaining £8million savings.

Huge financial pressures have been left to us by the last government and will result in cuts again next year. I totally recognise these will be unpopular and I promise that I will listen and consider your views carefully throughout the budget process. We as councillors, irrespective of our political allegiances, must work in unprecedented territory to produce a balanced budget while remembering that for every pound taken out of any proposed cut, a pound must be found elsewhere and must be sustainable year on year. I hope no party shirks its responsibility and chooses to just irresponsibly oppose every suggestion without suggesting a fully costed alternative………that’s the easy way out. We can’t spend what we haven’t got, that is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Please take a few minutes to complete the budget proposals questionnaire by clicking on the button below, it really is important that we have the views of as many people as possible before making final decisions.

Have your say

Comments received up to 5pm on Thursday 11 December 2014 will be considered by Cabinet on Monday 15 December 2014. Council will then consider the phase one proposals on Wednesday 17 December 2014.

Cabinet will use the feedback received to develop the phase two proposals that will be published in January for consultation. Council will then consider these phase two proposals, along with the level of council tax, at its meeting on 4 March 2015.Please take part and help us shape the next budget.