373 children in care in Peterborough!

Council Scrutiny Committee

As detailed in the City Council‘s latest Budget Proposal Plans, the local authority are currently supporting 373 children in care, in 2011/12 this number was 340, an increase of 9.7%.

“The cost per week for a child in care ranges between £350 and £3,500, dependant on whether they are being cared for in-house by a foster carer or in a residential placement, the latter being significantly more expensive.” – PCC

The Conservatives are failing in their duty of care to children in poverty, whose numbers are increasing to Dickensian levels under Tory austerity.

With the IFS forecasting that child poverty will rise to 5 million by 2022, It’s surely time that the Tories bring forward a new strategy to tackle child poverty?

Please let me know YOUR thoughts and views below!

 

Tories in turmoil at the Town Hall……

Cllr David Sanders
Senior Tory councillors joked about Cllr David Sanders’, just before he announced his departure from politics…. they soon stopped laughing!

The Conservatives have been “running” the City Council since the year 2000, and as someone who has been a councillor since 2004, I can assure you I’ve never seen them in such a mess!

It seems quite clear to me, given that there is no more silverware in the cupboard for them to sell, that they’ve agreed annual rises in Council Tax over the next 5 years, the back tracking on bulky waste collections, senior officers moving to jobs outside the authority etc!

And let’s not forget the recent events, like:

  1. Tory Mayor drops resignation bombshell – After a year in the role as mayor, Tory councillor, David Sanders, announced at a meeting of Full Council (without informing his leader or other senior Tory councillors) that he’d be resigning his position as a elected member after 20 years in the role. Some suggest this was solely down to his view of how things are being run by his party colleagues at the Town Hall?
  2. Chief Finance Officer jumps shipJohn Harrison, who received £184,572 last year including pension contributions, suddenly left the authority, without even a good-bye email? I myself was very surprised, as I thought he was pretty much entrenched at the Council and especially after I was told at a meeting (which he also attended) that he’d be the one leading the renegotiation of the Council’s contract with Amey?
  3. Nearly half a billion in debt – This year I discovered from holding the Tories at the Town Hall to account during a formal meeting, that they are presently in debt to the tune of £395,400,000 and repayment of individual loans ranges from 2 months to 49 years. The total interest payment over the life of the outstanding debt is presently £405,000,000……. nearly half a billion! To put it into perspective, if you get paid £16,000 a year, then its like you owing £38,400 …… on top of YOUR mortgage or rent etc Not very fiscally sound, eh?
  4. Rhubarb Bridge fiasco – Hundreds of local residents were left dismayed after the Tories launched a “consultation” exercise regarding the future of the Rhubarb Bridge, however, on attending they discovered that there was only one option on the table, and that a multi million pound deal had already been signed!

Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts or opinions below!

New school at Paston Reserve/Manor Drive is just a “buffer”

What’s this to do with?

At a meeting of the Council’s Children and Education Scrutiny Committee, on which I sit on as the Lib Dem rep, we were told that, the new secondary schools at Hampton Gardens and Paston Reserve “…would provide a buffer to the additional capacity required in the City.”

The report also stated that, there “.. is currently a shortage of school places in Peterborough.”

You may remember that the Tories at the Town Hall chose to close schools like John Mansfield and Bretton Woods in 2002, despite warnings from councillors at the time!

What does Darren think?

Put simply, I think this is Council phraseology to say, when it comes to school places in the city, we are up a certain creek without the required paddle!

The Tories are looking for any excuse to try and justify their terrible decision to close secondary schools in Peterborough over a decade ago.

It seems that no planning was done, no one envisaged an increase in the population, or the need to have sufficient school places, despite some at the Council crowing about “growing the right way!

The biggest worry of course is the impact this has had on several generations and how it will affect pupils in Peterborough over the coming years.

Interestingly at the same meeting, the Tory leader of the Council tried to say that the decision to close secondary schools such as John Mansfield and Bretton Woods taken in 2002, was due to a Government directive and enabled the local authority to bid for money to improve existing school buildings – That’s a new excuse for me regarding the derisory decision!

Worth noting …….

  • At the same meeting the Council said they intended to undertake a review of the Primary schools estate, schools such as Norwood and Gunthorpe were being assessed for expansion.

Given the problems with parking at these two schools already, I suspect nearby residents will be concerned about any possible increase in pupil numbers?

PS…

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#Werrington Children’s Centre de-designated after costing Council £87,362 a year! @Welbourneschool

photo

At the latest meeting of the City Council’s Creating Opportunities and Tackling Inequalities Scrutiny Committee, Liberal Democrat, city councillor, Darren Fower, was told Werrington Children’s Centre, would now come under the control of Welbourne School.

The move, we understand must be finalised before September 2014.

Council Officers said that at present the cost of services at the centre, to the local authority, was around £87,362 a year.

In the report presented to the Scrutiny Committee, it stated:

Welbourne Primary School to have control over the building and become the anchor tenant. In doing so they will use some of the children’s centre space to extend the school, locating the reception class in the building.

The full cost of maintaining the building will be the responsibility of the school and these costs will be supported by rental income from:

• The pre-school provider that operates from the building;

• Peterborough Learning Partnership having Werrington as their administration and, potentially, their delivery base;

• Ad hoc rental income from organisations that want to use the space.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Darren Fower told us:

“The cost of running the building will now become the responsibility of the school. The hope is that the co-location of the reception class next to the pre-school will improve transition arrangements?

“I made it clear at the meeting, that I wanted assurances local residents should experience very little inconvenience, that the facility must be available to local groups and ownership of the building should remain with the City Council.

“In a later report that evening, we discovered the Council were eyeing up the North of the City, as a place for pupil overspill from elsewhere in the city. So with that in mind, I’m also keen to ensure that local children do not miss out on progressing to Welbourne Primary School when they reach the right age.

“I also asked about assurances that the plan to cover the financial cost was viable and that we would not simply see a complete use of the pupil premiums to cover the Tory Council’s cuts in services.”

Additional Information:

  • Peterborough Learning Partnership (PLP) will be based in the building which will mean that there will be a constant presence in the centre and will militate against issues with health services around ‘lone working’ arrangements.
  • PLP has also suggested that they will want to deliver some training programmes from the building.
  • According to Peterborough City Council, “Initial concerns voiced by parents during the consultation period around continuing to access early years’ services locally have been mitigated through the securing of appropriate tenancy agreements for the de-designated centres. These tenancy agreements with identified tenants will secure the delivery of the core entitlement offer as identified above from each of the dedesignated centres.”
  • The report states that the full cost of maintaining the building will be the responsibility of the school and these costs will be supported by rental income from the pre-school provider that operates from the building; Peterborough Learning Partnership having Werrington as their administration and, potentially, their delivery base; and ad hoc rental income from organisations that want to use the space.