Glad to say it looks like the Council are about to get around to sorting out several of the potholes along Hallfields Lane and Derwent Drive, that have been in need of repair for some weeks now!
Before 2010, aspects like waste, street cleaning, flytipping and grass cutting used to be done by the City Council.
Then in 2011, the Tories at the Town Hall, decided to sign a 23-year-contract with Enterprise – which was bought out by Amey in 2013.
According Age UK, trading standards budgets have been cut by some 50% over the last 7 years.
The result? Millions of older people are at a greater risk of becoming victims of fraud.
Did YOU see?
In April 2018, local media reported that Directors of a Peterborough firm which pressure sold beds and chairs to elderly and vulnerable residents were jailed.
Judge Cooper said of Geoffrey and Jaqueline Turner, of Hall Lane (Werrington), “You chose to impoverish customers mentally, intellectually, emotionally and financially.”
Age UK also said it believed 2/5’s of older people (nearly 5 million over 65’s), believe they’ve been targeted by scammers.
What do I think?
I think the Tory government must ensure trading standards services are properly resourced, and that they stop giving them additional duties on top of their core role of protecting residents and stopping rogue traders.
What have I done?
I have now requested an update on the present state of play, from Directors at Peterborough City Council, in respect of staff numbers and budget levels, and whether these have changed over the last few years.
Once I have details on this I will of course share it with you.
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:
- How much of the £50m has been allocated to Peterborough City Council?
- Is there a plan for what the money will be spent on yet and if so what is it?
- 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?
- 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%
Its been reported that the amount of people using buses in England each year has fallen to its lowest level in a decade – down to 4.38 billion passenger journeys across the country in 2016/17!
You may have recently read in the local media, that local bus prices recently increased, with the price for a single ticket going up by around 3.5%?
As reported in the recent Peterborough Telegraph article, our city will be one of 8 areas in England to take part in a scheme to help combat electoral fraud, in this years local elections on May 3rd.
Given there are 353 councils in England, this means 98% of authorities are not taking part, so in a way, we are a bit special here in Peterborough!
What to expect?
- Council officers hand delivering postal voting packs and completing face-to-face surveys with postal voters to stress the importance of completing the vote themselves.
- A second round of face-to-face surveys will be completed after the postal vote returns to check residents put an X in the box themselves.
- Face-to-face surveys to be completed at random computer generated addresses throughout the city over the coming weeks.
- All proxy voters will be required to produce photographic identification at polling stations before being issued with a ballot paper to vote on another person’s behalf.
Why is this happening?
It mainly relates back to the electoral fraud in 2004, when ex-Tory Mayor of Peterborough Raja Akhtar and ex-Labour Mayor Mohammed Choudhary were jailed, for interfering with postal votes in Central Ward during council elections.
Also jailed for the same offence, were ex-Labour official Tariq Mahood, ex-Labour candidate Maqbool Hussein, ex-Conservative councillor Abdul Razaq and ex-Conservative candidate Mohammed Khaliq.
What do I think?
It’s sad. But I guess it’s needed? That said, it reminds me that a) I believe that the first past the post voting system needs to be replaced with proportional representation and, b) I believe we need to start using electronic voting, and that this shows it is no less secure than the conventional means of casting your vote.
Do you know some dodgy goings on?
- The council has set up an election fraud hotline and anyone who has any concerns can report them by calling 01733 452277.
- If you believe an act of malpractice is ongoing call police on 101 or 999.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog article on here, regarding Westcombe Engineering, after which, I was contacted by Mr Michael Fletcher.
Mike was previously a Conservative City Councillor and is recognised as one of the individuals who helped save the service, a few years ago, when it faced the threat of closure.
Here’s what Mr. Fletcher had to say ……
“It is good to see that Westcombe are still in existence and providing work for the disabled workforce. But let us not forget that some years ago the Conservative administration at the time were hell bent on closing the facility in the same way in which they put many disabled people out of work by closing Westcombe print works.
“At the time Westcombe engineering was saved from closure by myself with assistance from the late councillor David Thorpe.
“Having formed a new company and after negotiation we were able to take control of the business. In return for saving the works and jobs we expected the existing site management and council officers to all pull together and make a success of our initiative.
“How wrong we were, we found that components were being sold at far less than the cost of production. Ordering sequence of aluminium castings was non existent to such an extent that machinery and the workforce often stood idle until an emergency delivery arrived. Completion targets were rarely met.
“Customers were treated as insignificant to such an extent that we received a letter from one asking if we wanted his work or not. One particular order never went into production ‘because the client had not chased it up’.
“In fact it was an unbelievable situation and typical of how the council operates. On the first day, the council took away a van that had been purchased for Westcombe by means of a grant. Left with no means of delivery for that day’s production I provided a large transit van which was used by Westcombe for several weeks until I sold it to Westcombe for £2k less than market value.
“I also provided £15k of funding by way of an interest free loan.
“David Thorpe and myself quickly realised that the site management would have to be replaced. To this end we hired an experienced business manager and an engineering manager. We then found that as the existing management staff were employed by the council and seconded to Westcombe with us paying the wages we couldn’t sack them.
“Apart from this we also found that the site managers and certain council officers were actively working against us with, as we thought, the intention of making the business fail.
“To add insult to injury the council gave the site managers a backdated pay rise and charged us for the privilege, all done without any consultation whatsoever.
“Then we found they had a ‘comfort fund’. This was the proceeds of faulty castings sent for scrap with the money being placed in a bank account to be divvied up by the managers for meals out and their own personal benefit.
“All done with the knowledge of certain council officers within City Services.
“This resulted in a police enquiry and the sack for those found guilty. Not one council officer was charged!!
“There is so much more that could be told but the eventual outcome was that myself, David Thorpe and Mark Stembridge had an appointment at the town hall to, as we thought, sign a lease for the premises.
“We were conned into believing this was the intention, but on arrival we were told the
council were taking back control of Westcombe. We were then forced into winding up our company.
“The council then put into Westcombe a bunch of consultants at goodness knows what cost who after some years did not even know they were supposed to account for VAT being charged on goods sold.
“When this came to light it was reported that the council had to stump up £500k.
“The excuse was that all income went into a central pot and they were not used to paying VAT. For this kind of stupidity the head of finance is paid upwards of £200k.
“Did they have to pay interest and a penalty like any other business would have had to? No one outside of the council knows.
“What is the situation now. Who has paid for the new machinery? Can they produce bona fide accounts to prove profitability? It would certainly make for interesting reading.”
It’s also been suggested…
- If the dossier that was presented by a colleague to the office of fair trading, serious fraud office and others, which contained allegations of fraud and corruption concerning payments to consultants and then referred to Cambridgeshire constabulary had been properly investigated, Peterborough City Council may not now be in the financial balls up that exists today.
- The police did not investigate for the alleged reason that it would probably take two years and they did not have the funding.
Have you got a comment?
What’s YOUR thoughts on what has been said above? Feel free to drop a comment below and let me know!