It was truly revealing how the Dear Leader Cllr Marco Cereste managed to slip in during an exchange on Twitter, the black hole in the Council budget had jumped by some £3 million in the space of a few days. Its now northwards of £25 million, and still they have no idea how to cut the spiralling costs especially as the 'bread and circus' fun budget has seemingly been ringfenced. AGAIN!
No wonder he's having sleepless nights, but could it be down to the serial ligging the Dear Leader enjoys? A few early nights might be the answer. Why only this week the Marco tonsils have been negotiating a new curry house and he took to twitter to brag about it...
Have you seen the metalwork already in place in the Cereste Memorial Square? Consider how many social workers could be financed or hot meals served ?
Clearly as its less than 6 months until the local government elections, and facing what is said to be an exceptionally wet and cold winter. Any cuts are going to be life threatening for some poor souls. Either heat or eat....
Cutting already decimated essential services is hardly a vote winner. The lame suggestion is for yet more consultations - in fact two of them, which should take it to the election and craftily shift any blame on the shoulders of the good citizens of Peterborough. We only did what you asked....
You dear Citizen, are to be asked which services (from a very short slate) matter the most. Clearly the Dear Leaders pet public realm vanity projects are not up for discussion, and fall into the 'ringfenced at any costs' basket. You will have a downtown replica of Rome... Gotta be a medal in it somewhere?
But unlike the councillors who having relentlessly tucked special responsibility payments under their mattresses, consultations usually take months to come up with even mundane recommendations.
The neighbourhood council debacle being one such black hole but a nice little earner for some councillors. The answers like Turkeys voting for Christmas must be on the Cereste desk long before Christmas. But why Cllr Cereste? Who could well be out of office by May 2015?
A dear reader has kindly drawn the PBROTRIBs attention to that doyen of financial puberty [err Probity? Ed.] , which is a gift to anyone considering running against the plumped up white caravan owning Cllr next May... Cllr Turnip - the gift that keeps on giving - which must have escaped the Dear Leaders attention, clearly the Dear Leader worries far too much, no problems with the finances according to Cllr Turnip £25 million DEBT? Mere petty change, read and weep Marco:
"....its clear we are bucking the trend with the second largest growth [ahem of debt perhaps? Ed.] in the country, a reported huge leap in average earnings, a terrific public realm investment which has led to most of our shops in the Town Centre now being full [clearly overstocked and few buying. lots of Pop Ups too? Ed.], and more and more exciting investment is coming into our city with the new Skills Centre at the POSH ground, the new Waitrose store currently being built, the Bourges Boulevard Improvements which will make our city so much more friendly and open when arriving [or rapidly departing Ed.] by rail, along with some very exciting plans for the South Bank and North Westgate." Bless.
Is it not the job of the highly paid Chief Executive Officer Gillian Beasley to keep a commercial eye on the finances? This of course is the problem Gillian, by Mrs Beasleys own admission, she is a solicitor, and not a high flying captain of industry, who is confident in making far reaching life changing financial decisions.
With the greatest of respect Mrs Beasley its time to hand over to a professionally qualified Chief Executive / Financial Director, to steer this sinking ship of a debt laden small Unitary Authority. The bigger fish in the public sector pool are being favoured, and Peterborough is being disadvantaged.
The first so called consultation needs to slash nearly £17 million off the council spend, ideas before Christmas ( they'll even look at Magic Beans or a Genie bouncy Allison Hammond is at the Cresset - You could save the City Allison! ). The second tranche of slash and burn is around another £8 million, kicking in from January 2015. The PBROTRIB has already put some ideas in following the last budget but we'll happily pile in some more:
Assistant Director for Legal & Democratic Services (£95,000:00)????? Appointmewnrt next week? End this recruitment process today.
Cut the headcount in the sector known as 'Corporate' by at least half. Mrs Beasley has built up a massive and very expensive empire around her. WHY? How many qualified lawyers now work for her? What does she actually do?
Disband the so called Public Relations department, and put out to commercial tender at 40% of the overall current in-house spend. London based PR firms will chew your arm off Mrs Beasley!
Dump the onerous American legal liability [PublicStuff Inc.] of the MyPeterborough App. (see back posts) and terminate the contract of the officer who got you into the mess.
Cut number of councillors by half, as most functions have been contracted out.
No 'Bread and Circuses' activities unless 100% to 150% commercially sponsored, totally self-financed and a profit centre -costing in council supervision regulatory time and cost.
Disband printing department. Only print limited library copies of council documents all others 'cloud' based. If councillors cannot work a computer or tablet then resign or view library copy
All Taxi Badge fees to be in line with that charged by Brighton Council and all taxis to be properly uniformly liveried,
All cab advertising inside and out to be shared with council 60%/40%
All pavement A boards and pavement retail goods displays charged for.
Cathedral Square Hot Dog stands pitch fees quadrupled...
Sex club (such as Angels) licence fees to be quadrupled
Empty business rates to be levied at full rate, if not already. Consider CPO if properties remain unoccupied for more than two years, the Broadway Theatre for example.
One of the first act has to be patch up and stop the Long Causeway tart uo - in its tracks. The Bridge Street redevelopment hasn't worked. ITS EMPTY AFTER 5pm MARCO! Retail is in terminal decline and even the headline supermarkets are savagely cutting their store roll out programmes.
The Bourges Boulevard disaster is European Community financed so finish that off. No trees, but leave the overhead bridge footway in place use the tree money to refurb it. Artics and humans really do not mix.
Come clean on all spending however remotely associated Blue Sky (Peterborough) Limited. Claw back the public money spend. Several million by all accounts.
Operate an employment policy of last in first out, renegotiate senior directorate packages. No one should be earning a penny more than the Prime Minister. No leased car pool. Offer bus & Train money. Mileage at 45p. Bike allowance 5p a mile.
End Town Hall Hospitality and Catering contracts. The sight of vanloads of fine wine being carted in sends out the wrong signal. Lots of pizza joints around would welcome the trade.
Councillor allowances to be clawed back and based on physical attendance of core public meetings and holding of councillor surgeries.
DO NOT put up car park charges private operators are already undercutting
Cancel Membership and all costs of the lobby group Local Government Association, there are other more appropriate organisations to represent our interests. Ask Glasgow about this..
Independently audit all costs associated (and long term obligations) with the SERCO contract in light of its recent past history of mishandling major public contracts.
Properly enforce food safety standards (especially in Lincoln Road) and take away services, will cut cases of food poisoning and take pressure off Hospital A&E.
Totally rethink the councils Information Technology spend, they've been patching up old software for years which is now an expensive legacy problem. Get Fujitsu Services or someone of that calibre, to take it all over. Time for tinkering is over.
In view of the security high threat level. Remove the banks of computer screens and printers in Central library. Invite a commercial organisation to put in pay terminals.
Terminate free wi-fi
End the discredited Cabinet System and go back to Committees.
Take recently convicted Councillor Hiller OFF the Honours Committee !!!!!!!!!!
Vivacity hold it to its original financial proposal consider splitting it into individual profit centres
Library & Museum
Swimming Pool & LIDO
Sports Grounds /Centres
Wind up Vivacity and put Profit Centre Management out to competitive commercial tender.
In reality, the consultation process is little more than a whitewash based on the childrens centres and care homes exercises. We'll have to see how the Conservative cohort spin all this when their glossy magazine hits the letterboxes. It cannot be too long before they start data mining for all the postal votes, and Cllr Rush puts in his wholesale order for tins of biscuits, as he assists senior citizens with the completion of the slips over a nice cup of tea... Probably better to add a few bottles of Metaxa, when the dear leaders finished with this round of cuts. Oblivion would seem to be the only way ahead...
Finally go cap in hand to Cambridgeshire County Council, and join up the administrations and turn the Town Hall into a Café Du Vin Boutique Hotel..... I thank you...and Merry Christmas from him, although Marco and family could well be in sunny Italy..... Bellisimo!
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