Starting to take back control

This week we celebrated a momentous occasion and welcomed the first staff to our new local authority trading company.

Just before Christmas we made the landmark decision to set up our own company, Peterborough Limited, which I like to call the ‘people’s company’. It will deliver services for residents that were previously provided by Amey.

Bringing services such as waste and recycling and building cleaning back in house gives us greater control over how these services are provided and allows us to better monitor them so that they can constantly improve. It also allows us to provide better value for money.

We’re not bringing all of the services and 449 employees back from Amey into Peterborough Limited in one go, we are doing it in a phased approach to ensure that the best quality of service is maintained.

Building cleaning moved across on Monday and I was delighted to meet some of the staff at the Town Hall. They were all really excited about moving back to the council and the plans that we have to develop these services.

John meets Latco

Waste and recycling collections and passenger transport will transfer on 1 April, followed by building maintenance, street cleansing and grounds maintenance on 4 May.

For residents there will be little obvious change, but we will be striving to ensure that all the services we provide are of the highest quality so that our city is clean and well maintained.

We will also be looking to commercialise the services that we provide, to add to the growing number of ways we are generating income to support our budget. I’ll be able to tell you more about that in the coming months.

Core services funding update

This week the government announced that councils are to benefit from increased funding to support core services. It all sounded very positive as the minister said our core spending power would increase, but on closer inspection, I’m sad to say this won’t be the case.

The fact remains that we are still funded on out-of-date 2010 population figures. We have lost 80 per cent of our government grant in the past 10 years and we still have more savings to make in the coming years.

Local government as a whole has saved the government in the region of £69 billion in the past decade, so it’s about time we saw some of that money come back.

Extra powers recommended for councils

I was pleased to learn that it has been recommended councils have more power to tackle poor conduct from councillors.

We have been lobbying government for extra powers for some time, not because we have a big problem in Peterborough, but so we have the ability to tackle poor practice when we are confronted with it.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has recommended that council standards boards should have the power to ban councillors for up to six months without allowances. I am sure that would have a very positive impact.

Rogue landlord brought to justice

We had another successful result at magistrates’ court last week, this time involving a landlord who failed to comply with orders to improve the standard of a property.

Brian Searle was found guilty of failing to comply with two Improvement Notices served by our housing enforcement team ordering him to carry out extensive remedial work to a house in Limetree Avenue.

Mr Searle, of Lincoln Road, Peterborough, was fined a total of £2,500 for the offences, ordered to pay full council costs of £4,896.12 and a victim surcharge of £170, bringing the total amount to £7,566.

The property had no proper heating system, building materials, tools and personal possessions were strewn throughout the house and there were no fire alarms.

The vast majority of landlords and agents in the city are law abiding, but I assure you that we will continue to drive up standards and seek out any rogue landlords who think they are above the law.

Inspire Peterborough’s sporting event

On Saturday I’ll be attending Inspire Peterborough’s sixth annual Sporting Saturday event at The Cresset in Bretton. The event showcases Peterborough’s finest inclusive and disability sport and leisure activities.

Demonstrations and have-a-go tasters will be running throughout the day for you to join in or simply watch. The free event runs between 11am and 4pm.

You can find out more by visiting Inspire Peterborough’s Facebook page.

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