This month my Cabinet colleagues and I will be asked to approve the council’s first commercial strategy.
It doesn’t sound the most exciting document I admit, but it’s actually very important as it sets out how we’ll further generate income by selling our services, investing and operating more like a business.
With our government funding only going one way, we couldn’t deliver a balanced budget and provide the services our residents rely upon without generating the income we do.
Last year we made £72million through investments, sharing of services, providing services for other organisations, property rental and fees and charges.
For example, we generated £2.7million by selling the energy produced by our energy from waste plant and our commercial property portfolio which is worth £21million generates an annual income of around £3million – that’s a 14 per cent return.
We share our planning and trading standards departments with other councils, bringing in £4million annually and our £15million loan to Propiteer Hotels Ltd for the building of the new Hilton hotel at Fletton Quays will make us £500,000.
Our sharing of services with Cambridgeshire County Council, in particular the chief executive and her senior leadership team, has delivered sizeable savings.
I could go on, but these are just a few of the ways we’re generating income and working in a more commercial way to be able to provide the services you need, despite an 80 per cent cut in our government funding.
And with that funding due to decrease even further in years to come, we have got to find more ways of generating our own income. Our commercial strategy will help us to do that.
Entries open for Perkins Great Eastern Run
One of the most popular events in our city’s calendar is the Perkins Great Eastern Run and although this year’s race on October 13 still seems a long time away, entries are now open.
If you’ve previously taken part or been along to watch then you’ll know what a fantastic occasion it is.
Whilst my running days are behind me, I would urge anyone thinking of taking part to sign up soon, as demand for places is always high and over 1,000 people have already pre-registered.
Hundreds of participants also take part in aid of good causes, particularly those taking part in the Anna’s Hope Fun Run which saw over 1,000 entrants last year.
New charging points for electric cars
Our commitment to being an environmentally friendly city is a constant priority and we’re always looking at new ways to ‘go green’.
Over the past few years electric vehicles have become a common sight on our roads and the government recognises that towns and cities need to be equipped for them.
I’m delighted to report that we’ve been successful in bidding for £90,000 of government funding to install four new electric taxi charging points in the city.
We’re currently reviewing where these will be installed and which types of vehicle will be able to use them, but the points will be introduced during 2019/20.
Electric vehicles will become a more common sight on our roads over the next few years so it is vitally important that we have the right infrastructure in place for them.
Safeguarding Awareness Month
You may be aware that February is Safeguarding Awareness Month.
This important initiative aims to remind residents that the safety of individuals is everyone’s business.
Safeguarding is about keeping children, young people and adults at risk from abuse and neglect safe, by reporting any concerns or suspicions.
During the campaign a number of partners will be sharing messages about safeguarding and how members of the public can report their concerns
So please look out for these messages on social media and make others aware too.
We hope that by telling people about the signs to spot and how to report neglect, children and adults at risk can get the help they need more quickly.