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 Focus on a Trio of Key Issues

John Whitby, UKIP Group Leader, Councillor for Fletton & Stanground
Published February 2018

Putting focus on trio of key issues

This article first appeared in the
Peterborough Telegraph online

As I write this there are so many issues
going on that I’ll take a quick look at three.
Brexit’ first. It’s not ‘Local’ and certainly
not our local focus as a Party, but we
recognise and accept that the European Union
(EU) affects much of our lives, including the
issues covered below. We voted to leave the EU, at that point the ‘Leave’ campaign sat back as the decision had been made.

Unfortunately the ‘Remain’ side have not accepted that decision, continuing to campaign, trying to wear everyone down to accept a ‘Soft Brexit’, staying in the customs union and single market. If we’re in the Customs Union, paying the Common External Tariff on goods imported from non-EU nations, then we are, effectively, still in the EU, and have to follow all directives and rules. Only by having a complete, clean break with the EU bureaucracy, can we deliver success from Brexit. That is what the EU is worried about, a successful UK outside the EU is their worst nightmare.

Secondly, the Peterborough Council Budget for 2018/19 has been discussed for some time and the consultation is now out. I’d ask people to look at the most crucial element in the budget, and that is the loss of Government Grant. The council has been pushing ‘Stand Up for Peterborough’ to get a fairer settlement for one of the fastest growing cities in the country. I totally accept that, and back it wholeheartedly; we’re not getting a fair deal.

However, neither are most councils. The Government is using councils as its preferred method of making cuts and increasing taxation. The £35 million that has been taken from the grant compared to 2012 is insanity, but it’s similar for other councils. Northamptonshire being one where they cannot actually manage to produce a balanced budget. The Government’s still taking your tax, but they are not giving it to councils who provide a majority of the services. While councils struggle not to make cuts to services, Government still manage to keep £13 billion plus in the Foreign Aid budget!
Much easier to blame ‘local councils’ than to shoulder the blame themselves for making cuts isn’t it?

Thirdly, housing is the big issue locally, with large numbers of homeless and rough sleepers. The council is at last putting money into providing more temporary and affordable housing, which will start becoming available later this year. However, it cannot hope to deliver enough housing, if the city’s population keeps expanding at the rate it has over recent years. We need to provide accommodation for those that want it and need it, but also need to ensure that local social housing is prioritised for Peterborough people first, when allocating scarce resource.

It’s not just the housing numbers, we also need to ensure that people in social housing are looked after when they need it. Information on vulnerable people needs to be shared, and as early as possible, to prevent problems becoming a serious issue. I do believe there is a lack of adequate communication between some housing providers and the council on occasion, that would have allowed problems to be dealt with earlier, with better outcomes and more cheaply. This is something I want to achieve and will be pushing for. Council owned and managed housing does have it’s benefits, but must be more joined up, with fewer communication barriers.

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