An increase in council tax for Peterborough residents means that the city’s bus network is available to them for the price of “four, or perhaps five, cups of coffee per year,” the leader of the city council has said. 

Cllr Mohammed Farooq (Peterborough First, Hargate and Hempsted) said that the “benefits outweigh the burden” of a higher bus precept charged by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) as he voted in favour of approving it. 

The rise, which will see households in band D properties charged £36 this year – up from £12 last year – was supported by the majority of the CPCA’s board, meaning it will come into effect in May. 

“I particularly looked at Peterborough, where the majority of our properties are band B,” Cllr Farooq said as he explained his reasoning for his vote. “The increase for them is £16 or £28 in total. This equates to four, perhaps five, cups of coffee per year.

“But what does that bring to them?” he continued. “Whether they use the bus service or not, at least that facility’s there for them. Just by sacrificing those four or five cups of coffee per year, they’re also enabling some vulnerable people to get on buses that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to travel.” 

Cllr Farooq added that he hadn’t “taken this decision lightly”, but decided that “the benefits outweigh the burden which it will bring to the residents” after speaking to a “large number” of them. 

Money will support improvements to bus network

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, a Labour politician and head of the CPCA, says that the £11m generated from his precept will go towards improving bus stops and shelters across the region and keep struggling services running. 

Among them is route 5, connecting Peterborough and Yaxley, while there will also be improvements to services in Eye and Thorney and a review of options for orbital services linking “key destinations” around Peterborough’s city centre. 

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald (Conservatives, West), who sat on the CPCA’s board in Cllr Farooq’s place before he was removed from his position as leader of Peterborough City Council in November, asked Dr Johnson to reconsider his proposal to increase his precept earlier this week. 

Cllr Fitzgerald said that the CPCA should look to central government for more money before turning to taxpayers, but his recommendation – made at a CPCA overview and scrutiny committee meeting – was defeated with eight votes to four. 

All voting members of CPCA’s board supported Dr Johnson’s precept increase with the exception of Cllr Anna Bailey (Conservatives, Downham). 

This means that the CPCA will charge band A houses £24, band B £28, band C £32, band D £36, band E £44, band F £52 and band G £60 in the upcoming financial year.