I’m going to publish a regular update to keep the residents in Bretton ward informed about my activities as their City Councillor. Far too often, our elected officials have a tendency to disappear from view once they’re sworn into office, and you don’t hear about them again until the next election cycle. There’s no excuse for that – especially when social media makes it easier than ever to keep in touch with the people you represent.
Recall Petition at Bretton Library
Before I tell you all about my week, however, I think it’s important to remind you of the official petition to remove Fiona Onasanya from Parliament. Peterborough’s MP was convicted last year of lying to Police about speeding in her car. Despite being given a three-month jail sentence, she still continues to represent our city in the House of Commons. All the major political parties agree she should have resigned, yet she’s refused to do the decent thing. Peterborough deserves better and, starting next week, you’ll have the opportunity to demand a better, more honest person replace her.
This week, Peterborough City Council will write to all voters in Bretton with full details of the “recall” process. From 19 March 2019 onward, you can visit the polling station at Bretton Library and vote to remove Fiona from Parliament, so we can finally replace her with someone more worthy of being our Member of Parliament. And, just like with a normal election, you are entitled to request a postal vote if you cannot make it to the polling station in person. I urge all residents to take part in the “Recall Petition” and make your voice heard. You’ll have six weeks to take part, but I’d recommend you go and vote as soon as possible.
Copeland Community Centre
On to happier subjects… Last Thursday I visited Copeland in South Bretton. There have been rumours and growing concern from residents that their local Community Centre faces closure. Please be rest assured that myself and the Councillors from West ward (who represent South Bretton) will be doing everything we can to ensure this vital community resource remains available. I met with representatives of the Baptist Church in the area, spoke to the Chair of their Committee and Pastor to learn more about their work and future involvement with the centre. I also spoke to the owner of the local shop, who has expressed his intention to support as well. Finally, I met with representatives from U3A – the University of the Third Age – and Slimming World, who are regular users of Copeland Community Centre to reassure them that they will be able to continue delivering their services going forward.
Cotton End Community
On Friday I paid a visit to Cotton End Residential Community complex, where I discussed my plans to launch a darts tournament, as a way to build relationships between the elderly at different residential communities in the area. I’ve also recently used my “Community Leadership Fund” to help them acquire a dishwasher and fridge freezer. All Councillors are given a budget to spend on community-related initiatives in their area, and I was happy to see the impact my contribution was making for Cotton End residents.
Last week, I also attended a meeting at Watergall school, where I used to be a pupil and now sit as a Governor. Myself and the other Governors discussed with the Head and other teachers the progress the school has made, as well as considering how to make further improvements in the educational provision being offered to students. Quality education is of paramount importance in Bretton. More than a quarter of our residents have no qualifications whatsoever, and it is my hope that we can address this serious issue. Engaging and effective teaching raises aspirations for our young people and opens up professional opportunities for success. It’s something we should all support.
Council Budget Meeting
Finally, at the full Council meeting last week, we assessed and debated the unprecedented financial pressures the city faces, and had to make some very difficult decisions, including the need to reduce the discount offered by our Council Tax Support scheme. Originally, this scheme was supported by a grant from central government. However, the Revenue Support Grant we receive has been cut by 80% over the last few years. As a result, Councillors have had to find ways to balance the city’s budget that require difficult choices to be made, in order that we can continue to keep our basic services running. The situation is not sustainable, however, as we continue to lobby the government to provide fairer funding for cities like Peterborough.
I conduct my “Roaming Surgery” every weekend, visiting residents in their own neighbourhoods. If you’d like to know where I will be, and how you can get in touch with me then please visit my Facebook page.