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Brown bin fees could rise and street lights switch off in 'challenging' budget

Switching off street lights and increasing brown bin costs are among proposed changes by Peterborough City Council, in a ‘challenging’ budget for 2021/2022.
Peterborough Town Hall
Peterborough City Council on Friday, October 16 launched consultation of the first phase of the 2021/2022 budget

A consultation has been launched today (Friday, October 16) on Phase One of the budget, with ‘significant changes’ proposed to claw back £36million of savings.

The council is also seeking help and advice from the MPs and the government on the current financial situation.

For the past decade, the council has been operating within a difficult financial position, having to make millions of pounds of savings each year in order to balance its budget. This has mainly been achieved through the implementation of a financial recovery programme and a review of services and contracts to ensure they are achieving best value.  

The council also now generates £78million of external income annually through selling its services, rental receipts, fees and commercial income. 

However, for 2021/22, the budget setting process faces an increased challenge, with the funding received from Government and elsewhere not coming close to meeting the demand for services.  

Since 2013/14 Government funding has been reduced by over 70 per cent – around £58million - while a rapidly increasing population means the council is having to provide services for more than 202,000 people. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed an unprecedented strain on Peterborough’s future financial stability and means that the council has a much greater level of savings to make to achieve a balanced budget. 

These additional pressures include a forecast loss of £2.4million in parking revenue, a council tax deficit of £2.8million as a result of people being unable to pay and an increase in households receiving council tax support, and an additional £13.8 million on providing enhanced Adult Social Care services during the pandemic.  

The council has also been unable to achieve £5.5million of the savings that it expected to in the current year which creates further pressure in-year and next year. 

In the proposed changes, the public can expect:  

  • Changes to street lighting across the city, options include altering lighting levels or switching off some lights altogether between midnight and 5am, which could generate a £100,000 annual saving.  

  • Adapting intervention standards on roads by allocating £150,000 of capital funding to allow whole areas of highway to be improved, rather than one-off patching, to enhance the asset, which would generate £150,000 revenue saving.  

  • A review of fee levels to ensure that costs are recovered in relation to S38 (construction of new estate roads) and S278 (works to an existing highway) applications; this would increase income by £50,000.  

  • A fee increase to street naming which will cover costs in this area and generate additional income of £6,000.  

  • A budget adjustment of £5,000 to reflect maintenance work at Junction 3A (Ikea) being absorbed within the wider maintenance budget and another for £5,000 to reflect that the activity of the Accessibility and Travel team has been absorbed as part of a wider programme of work. 

  • This proposal is to increase the current subscription fee for the Brown Bin from £45 to £50 per year, to reflect the fact that the existing budget does not allow for back office software improvements, the impact on vehicle costs, or officer time. This would be the first increase to the charge since 2018/19. The council is also proposing to introduce a £25 charge for a second (or any subsequent) brown bin to further mitigate the costs outlined above.  

Councillor David Seaton, cabinet member for finance for Peterborough City Council, said: "This first phase of proposals details how we will save £2.7million in 2021/22 but there is a significant task ahead - one that we cannot meet without Government support. 

“The scale of the challenge next year will require additional funding and solutions as we cannot meet the deficit by savings alone. This is why we are discussing potential solutions to the financial situation that we and many other councils face with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The outcome of these discussions will be crucial to the second phase of proposals and being able to deliver a balanced budget next year. 

"In the meantime I would ask everyone to look at these proposals and tell us what they think. Please have in the back of your mind that even with the measures put forward, we still have a long way to go in order to balance the budget, and for everything we take out, we have to put something in to be able to make the savings that we need to." 

Councillor John Holdich, leader of the council, added: “Although the pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on our services, it has also demonstrated the vital role that councils play in the lives of residents and in supporting businesses, particularly in times of crisis. 

“Despite the pressures of the last year, we have continued to maintain good quality services and outcomes for residents and taken big strides forward with the redevelopment of the city centre and in furthering our vision for the city as a whole. Some of the notable successes include plans for a dedicated university for Peterborough progressing at pace; the redevelopment of Fletton Quays continuing with work now having started on the Hilton Hotel and due to start soon on the Government Hub; and the development of a visionary masterplan for the station quarter. 

“The challenge that we face to deliver a balanced budget next year is the most challenging that we have faced, but we will continue to work closely with our MPs and the Government to find a solution so that we can continue to work hard to keep people safe, support our businesses and to keep our city moving forward.” 

The proposals in full are available to view here.  

People can share their opinions by completing an online survey on the council website - . Hard copies can be requested by emailing communications@peterborough.gov.uk

The consultation will close on December 7 2020 at 5pm. Cabinet will consider comments on Monday November 30 2020 and Full Council will debate the phase one proposals on Wednesday December 9, 2020. 

 





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