#ElectoralFraud “We chose to be part” of the scheme – Says PCC CEO!

Peterborough Elections

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.

Plan of action for Norwood Lane? #Hopefully

Norwood Lane

Over the recent months, myself and my ward colleague Cllr Julia Davidson, have been working to highlight the issues faced by local residents living along the Norwood Lane, in Gunthorpe.

Issues like fly-tipping have blighted this community for over thirty years, while drainage and a lack of street lightening have only been around for nearly ten years!

Over the last 9 months we’ve paid site visits, spoken with local residents and at the October meeting of Full Council, I stood up and submitted a formal question to the Tory Cabinet Member for Communities.

As a result I discovered that since 1st January 2016 to-date, the Council has been forced to clear the Lane on 10 occasions, spending just under £50,000 to remove waste and £96,000 to dispose of it. Put simply, this level of spend cannot simply continue.

Pete Jones
At the meeting, I also met Pete Jones from Cambs Fire Service, who raised several points of concern regarding fire safety.

More recently, myself and Cllr Davidson attended a special meeting that included Council Officers, who have assured us that:

  • They have submitted a funding application to be used to implement a redesign and resurface of the lane itself.
  • Enforcement Officers will look to attend the site on a more regular basis.

At the meeting I also put forward the point that a) we need signs clearly stating the fly-tipping is prohibited, b) new signs need to introduced declaring the lanes name, c) any work on the road must include crossing points and d) relevant road markings are introduced.

Both myself and Cllr Davidson are keen to see action occur sooner rather than later, as there are several residents who suffer will ill health, and recently an Ambulance took nearly an hour to get down the lane!

#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.