Action now on climate crisis, not more long term targets!

Buses in Peterborough

At the end of last month, the Conservative controlled City Council in Peterborough have proposed that 4 March 2020, as the day Full Council is asked to adopt the Carbon Management Action Plan, is designated as a ‘climate action day’ whereby the council encourages staff and residents to do their ‘extra bit’ to reduce their carbon impact on that day.

At the start of this month, Tory Council Leader, John Holdich, was reported as saying, “The action that we can take individually and as a city can make a difference and it also sends out a clear message that we must all change our ways. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do so.”

What does Darren think?

The bottom line is that this Conservative controlled City Council has not taken the action that is really required.

  • Why are the Council saying they’ll get rid of the Mayors gas guzzling car in the future, why not get rid of it now?
  • Why are Councillors affording themselves massively discounted car parking passes, rather than discounted bus passes or cycles?
  • Why have the Tories at the Town Hall spent 20 years advocating that the car is king and neglecting and cutting funding to bus services?

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If we are to cut air pollution, tackle the climate crisis and reduce the chances of children in Peterborough getting asthma, cancer or respiratory problems, we need strong action from the City Council now, not more long term targets.

We also need the Conservative government that immediately invests to expand the UK’s charging network, so it can support the majority of vehicles by 2030.

We need a scrappage scheme for polluting cars, and we need measures to enable business and local authority fleets to go 100% electric ASAP.

What do YOU think? Please let me know below!

Council back-tracks on Serco contract worth millions of £’s

Serco in Peterborough
Cllr David Seaton (Tory), who is standing down in May 2020, celebrating PCC’s 5th anniversary with SERCO in 2015!

Under a 10 year contract started on November 28, 2011, Serco took on the responsibility for a range of frontline and back-office services for Peterborough City Council (PCC), including customer services, business services, HR and payroll, shared transactional services, ICT, procurement and business transformation.

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So what’s happened now?

The contract for Serco to deliver IT services to Peterborough City Council, is due to come to an end in September 2020.

The Tory controlled City Council have now announced they will NOT be renewing it and instead will be moving IT services back to the local authority when the contract ends.

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It seems strange, when ….

At the end of 2018, SERCO announced they’d agreed a 10 year contract extension with PCC, worth £105,000,000, to continue providing Customer Services, Business Support Services, Shared Transactional Services (including Revenues and Benefits), Transactional HR and Payroll, Procurement and Business Transformation services until 2031!

  • In the press release, SERCO boasted they’d “delivered £10m of savings to the Council.”

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What does Darren think?

Anyone with any common sense, has long since come to the view that handing over council services, is a shite idea.

Despite all the spin, press releases, self created awards ceremonies to give the impression the concept works, most people in Peterborough are fed up.

They realise, such actions by the Tories at the Town Hall have resulted in lesser services, job losses for local people and tens of millions of pounds leaking from public funds into the hands of private companies, and presumably the pockets of CEO’s and board members?

The Conservative controlled City Council has already announced plans to bring waste services back in house, now it’s the IT services and, I have no doubt, we can expect a lot more of these announcements, as the political pack of cards begins to collapse!

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Extra Bits:

  • Last year we discovered thousands of £’s a month was being spent by Peterborough City Council on mobile phones which were not being used. A report by Serco identified a “staggering 300 mobile phone numbers showing zero usage over the last two months”.
  • In 2019, we were told that an extra £3.687m had to be found for the deal between PCC and Serco! The reason? A: “… savings targets from Serco which had been included in the budget, but now show little likelihood of being achieved.”

Food bank use in Peterborough ‘up 50% in a year’

Jeremy Corbyn at Food Bank
Rise in food bank use due to “significant problems” with Tories Universal Credit.

What will Labour do?

🌹 Labour will ensure that everyone in the UK has a Right to Food by enshrining it in UK law, in a new Fair Food Act.
🌹 Labour will set a target of ending the need for food banks altogether.
🌹 A £6m Access to Food Fund will be established to kick start the development of local community food plans in the 50 most food deprived areas of the country.

👍🏽 Join the local LABOUR party for as little as £2.17 a month: https://join.labour.org.uk

Peterborough will pilot Government integration plans!

Immigration

The Government has chosen Peterborough, along with 4 other local authorities, to develop an integration plan, as part of a national strategy for England.

According to the Peterborough 2011 Census, in “10.0% of households no one has English as a main language.”

Like others, I do have my concerns around this announcement.

As from my own experiences, integration challenges are not uniform throughout the city, with different areas and communities having varying needs.

The Government has promised some £50m will be committed to the new strategy over the next 2 years.

According to the Government the “ambitious, long-term plan of action’ would ‘tackle the root causes of poor integration and create a stronger, more united Britain” by boosting English language skills, increasing opportunities for women and promoting British values in education.

I also remain confused as to why in our city, students over the years have been forced to learn German or French rather than Urdu or Mandarin? Plus, I would be concerned if we lost our city’s image as a proud and successful diverse society.

With that in mind, I’ve now asked the Councils Director for People & Communities:

  1. How much of the £50m has been allocated to Peterborough City Council?
  2. Is there a plan for what the money will be spent on yet and if so what is it?
  3. What has the Council been doing in recent years to help people integrate into their communities and how much of a budget does this action require each year?
  4. Also, the reports say funding for English speakers of other languages has fallen by 50%, so how much do we allocate in Peterborough for supporting English speakers of other languages and what services does that include?

What’s YOUR thoughts? Please feel FREE to let me know below!

Bit of Fun….!

Take the British Citizenship Test! PS – I scored: 75%

Rents in Cambridge & Peterborough are 3rd highest …..

Median monthly private rents
Median monthly private rents, October 2015 to September 2016

A recent article in the Guardian Newspaper, has placed Cambridge & Peterborough in 3rd place, behind London and the West of England, for having the highest median monthly private rents!

This news has come as no surprise to me!

I was literally speaking with a local resident of Gunthorpe the other day, who was complaining how his rent, for a single bedroom property had risen from £450 to £495 a month, in recent months.

I know that in the same area, about 4 years ago, similar properties were being rented for around £350 a month!

In my opinion, we need a City Council and Government committed to ending the insecurity for private renters by introducing controls on rent rises, more secure tenancies, landlord licensing and new consumer rights for renters.

We also need to empower tenants to call time on bad landlords by giving renters new consumer rights.

Renters are spending £9.6 billion a year on homes that the government classes as ‘non-decent’.

Around a quarter of this is paid by housing benefit.

A Labour government would introduce new legal minimum standards to ensure properties are ‘fit for human habitation’ and empower tenants to take action if their rented homes are sub-standard.

As always please let e know YOUR thoughts and opinions below!

Council’s “Agile working” concept hasn’t worked!

Cllr John Holdich

A couple of years ago, the Tory controlled City Council here in Peterborough announced “Agile working” throughout their offices, claiming it would save the local authority £500,000 a year!

In fact, as recently as August this year, Gillian Beasley, CEO of Peterborough City Council was singing the praises of Agile Working via the local authority’s Insite website, claiming “I’ve personally committed to working in an agile manner along with every member of the Corporate Management Team.” – Maybe though she was simply referring to her working part time, between Peterborough and Cambridge? 🙂

Well guess what? They’ve decided to pull the scheme, essentially they are blaming growing workloads and demands on services increasing.

“The council is now proposing to remove this saving which creates an ongoing pressure of £0.5million.” – PCC Budget 2018-2019 Phase 1 Proposals

Have you got faith in a Tory administration that can make half million pound ill thought plans? Let me know what your thoughts are below!

I’ve been appointed to a new Scrutiny Committee!

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Just thought you might like to know that I have now been appointed as a rep on the City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee!

It’s a committee that I served on for several years previously, alongside the likes of Cllr Keith Sharp, leading on issues like teenage pregnancy, sharp needle bins etc and so I am very much looking forward to being back involved.

The topic of health is certainly a concern in Peterborough, especially given the fact that life expectancy for people in our city city is several years less than other areas of Cambridgeshire!

Worth noting

  • Overview and Scrutiny was introduced under the Local Government Act 2000 and its purpose is to hold the cabinet and cabinet members to account by acting independently as a critical friend through constructive challenge.
  • Overview and Scrutiny is part of our decision making structure and it reports to full council.
  • Members of the public, service users and partners are encouraged to become involved in Overview and Scrutiny by highlighting areas of concern with our service delivery.

New Schools located at Manor Drive, Gunthorpe, will open ……

 

Manor Drive

During our door knocking exercises this year, one of the big questions from residents living along or just off Manor Drive relates to what is happening with the plan to build schools at the location.

So at a previous Full Council meeting I stood up and asked the Leader of the City Council what they had planned.

He told me that the Paston Primary, which includes 1 Form of Entry (i.e. 210 pupils) has an estimated opening date of September 2018, while the Paston Secondary School, which will have a maximum of 8 Forms of Entry (1200 pupils + a 6th form) is targeted to open September 2019.

You might also remember reading about how the Council went back on their original agreement to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing in the Manor Drive area?

The reason they did this is because they were desperate for a new secondary school and therefore wavered the affordable housing provision in lieu of the provision of land for a new secondary school.

Don’t forget that the same Tories who closed down HoneyHill, Bretton Woods etc are the ones now desperate for school places!

Then of course …………. there’s the question of how will the City Council ensure that the area isn’t invaded by parking parents at certain times of the week?

Wasdale Gardens

I’ve recently become a Governor at Gunthorpe Primary School!

Gunthorpe Primary School

I’ve recently had the pleasure of becoming a School Governor at Gunthorpe Primary School, and following my first meeting, I have to say I am encouraged by the commitment and ideas shown by other members of the board.

I’ve been a governor before at Ken Stimpson, and earlier in the year, at a committee meeting, Council Officers were highlighting the need for more people to become governors.

So I put my name down.

Now I can assure you that I am not short of things to do, but playing a positive role in the education of local young people and helping promote the good work done by the local school, was far too much of an attraction to not take up the challenge.

Gunthorpe Primary School2

Teacher training opportunities available in Peterborough

​​Schools across Peterb​orough are working together to provide training opportunities. If you are a graduate and want to complete your training in a school environment apply to Teach East.
​​Schools across Peterb​orough are working together to provide training opportunities. If you are a graduate and want to complete your training in a school environment apply to Teach East.

Teaching opportunities are available in Peterborough to graduates who train under a scheme run by Peterborough City Council.

The Peterborough Teacher Training Partnership, in partnership with the University of London, is looking for graduates to train to become a teacher in schools in Peterborough.

The Teach East scheme has been training teachers for over a year and many people have completed the course and are now teaching in schools across the city. As new schools are built and existing schools continue to expand the council needs more teachers to keep up with increasing demand.

The council has successfully recruited many trainee teachers for the next intake, starting in September, but there is a particular shortage of those wanting to teach key secondary subjects in local schools. The council needs graduates from chemistry, design technology, languages, maths and physics to train to teach children aged 15 to 16 years old.

Chris Clayton, principal lead at Teach East, said:

“Our Teach East project is a fantastic opportunity for graduates to re-train and start an exciting career in teaching. We offer great support, training and development options and the long-term career prospects for teachers in Peterborough are clearly very promising.

“If you are a graduate, are looking to perhaps change careers and are interested in a career in teaching please get in touch as we would love to hear from you. Not only could you get a new job, with great prospects, but you’ll be helping local children make the most of their potential too.”

For more information visit: www.teacheast.co.uk