It is little over one month until city council elections take place on 3 May and I am pleased to confirm that Peterborough is one of eight areas in England to take part in a Voter Pilot scheme to help combat electoral fraud.
We chose to be part of the initiative as we have a national reputation for our sterling work in deferring electoral fraud at elections in previous years.
The scheme has been launched by the Cabinet Office and will see us bring in tougher measures to strengthen our postal and proxy voter process.
These include officers hand delivering postal voting packs and completing face to face surveys with postal voters to stress the importance of completing the vote themselves.
The proxy vote is being strengthened, with all proxy voters required to produce photographic identification at polling stations, before being issued with a ballot paper to vote on another’s behalf.
Using the internet and accessing services online is now a big part of many people’s everyday lives, but not everyone can use computers and smartphones as confidently as they would like.
You might not know, but many of our services including council tax, business rates, blue badges, parking permits, as well as school and community transport, can now be accessed via our council website. And to make sure as many people as possible can use these we have set up new Digital Inclusion sessions.
Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Werrington Library to see one of these workshops take place. The free sessions are being held at various community centres and libraries and are open to all city residents.
The digital inclusion officers delivering the training are friendly, knowledgeable and very patient, so everyone can learn at their own pace.
Last Wednesday night saw our budget for the next financial year and proposed 5.99 per cent council tax rise (including an Adult Social Care precept of three per cent) approved at full council following debate.
As I have previously stated, due to substantial cuts in funding from central government we are in a position where we have to make difficult decisions.
However, we have worked hard to ensure that vital frontline services such as adult and child social care, waste disposal, libraries, winter gritting, trading standards and prevention and enforcement are maintained.
The decisions that were made around the budget in this meeting will ensure we are in a good position to deal with the financial challenges that will come our way throughout 2018/19 and beyond.
Last week saw temperatures take a plunge and our city was blanketed in a thick layer of snow for the first time in a long while.
Whilst snowy scenery always looks picturesque and gives youngsters a chance to get creative, the conditions often end up causing people problems, especially when it comes to travelling.
Our highways and gritting teams stepped up to the challenge, with the gritters covering a total of 4,818 kilometres, equating to 46 per cent of our road network and using over 400 tonnes of rock salt.
Listening to residents and acting on their concerns is a crucial part of the role for the city council’s cabinet, not least during the consultation period on our annual budget proposals.
Yes, we are having to make tough decisions on some services due to a severe cut in Government funding, but we will always try to do our best to meet the needs of the community when they approach us for support.
In the case of Bretton Water Park, I am delighted that a solution has been agreed to prevent us from having to close the facility.
Vivacity have offered to run this popular facility during the summer months and the organisation is ideally placed to do this as they also look after a number of other leisure and sports sites in the city.