|"Jack sold the faithful cow for a handful of magic beans..." Oh yes, he did!|
This is an important week for those who can be bothered to follow what happens inside our Pizzaborough Town Hall, effectively the panto season has started.
For a pile of magic beans, Peterborough City Council has effectively handed over control to a yet to be elected regional Mayor, and dazzled by a hypothetical set of numbers (which to a lay person immediately suggests the council is going to be bailed out with substantial new revenue streams) being devolved from Central Government.
Unfortunately no one seems to have read, and importantly, understood the small print or the 'riders to contract' bear in mind that the grandly named Airports Commission drilled through £20 million just to produce a limp 400 page report which it now turns out relied on data that was some 20 years out of date. .....
The 'pig in the poke' agreed by Peterborough City Council, effectively hands control of our affairs over to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority ( notice how, for cosmetic reasons, we are tagged on the end of Cambridgeshire) and we all now have to pay for the setting up of this bureaucratic monolith, the PCC is relegated to becoming a constituent member ie one single vote in the new set up.
Clause V is interesting and a master of the kind of double speak we have all endured over the introduction of Personal Independence Payments. Blinded by the fact that seemingly eyewatering sums of 'extra' public funding will be coming our way, to kick start all kinds of 'magical' inward investment programmes, seemingly no one has properly looked at the small print.
Clause V: to recommend to the Combined Authority that the costs of establishing the Combined Authority, holding the elections in May 2017 and running the Combined Authority (including Mayoral Office) for 2016/17 and 2017/18 are funded from the gain share grant provided by Government (as outlined in para 12.11)
In short it means that in exchange for 'additional' funding being released, we now have to use that money not for housing or the benefit of the City but to TOTALLY fund the establishment of the Combined Authority. This is a major expense and will certainly earmark a major element of the funding released by Central Government.
We would suggest someone flicks back through the accounts of the outgoing Police Commissioner, Sir Graham ('Dimbut')Bright, and take a closer look at the public funds wasted just to physically set up his office, (possibly to suit his lifestyle?) rerouting secure police computer networks which has now been dismantled, and the PCC office now moved into police property in Huntingdon. Where it should have been in the first place.
The second flaw in this nonsense is "authorise the Combined Authority to have a power to issue a levy to the constituent Councils in respect of any financial year" again the pot of gold from central government will be raided year on year to keep the Combined Authority going.
Bluntly no matter what they spend, there is no effective cap on expenditure, as the combined authority will have the power to issue 'a levy in ...respect of any financial year' there is no end date it could go on forever... a new regionwide money pit...
But fear not we have a couple of 'Brains of Britain' voting on our behalf to manage the one single vote we have in this new all powerful Combined Authority. With respect Cllr. Holdich Leader of the Council, is a bit long in the tooth, to get his brain around this whole new byzantine multi-level layers of techno driven bureaucracy. By the time its properly set up, Cllr Holdich would possibly be a prime candidate for one of the Councils own care homes - apart from the fact that Cllr Fitz. scrapped them all, and turfed out the long term residents, in their twilight years.
Oh Cllr Fitzgerald is the second named 'Brain of Britain' on the list to represent our one single vote.
To be fair, the deal if you just read the executive summary it looks inviting, but in reality the devil is in the detail, yes additional funding is released, but equally an expensive regional monolith has to be continually financially primed with resources and there seems to be no end date... magic beans!
The council executive argue that if we don't sign up we will lose:
Realistically if we did lose all these 'benefits' then central government would immediately collapse. There will always be funding for housing development and funding for infrastructure growth.
However 'the government commitment to work with Peterborough to develop Peterborough University' will never ever happen in our lifetime, not with Cambridge academia being a key player in this Combined Authority.
Also there is no commercial traction for an enterprise zone, we are zoned for the building of sheds, the revised routing of HS2 and HS2 has seen to that. Question why the route deliberately arcs around and well away from Peterborough?
In addition the media is deserting the City, during 2017 the BBC will close down the Peterborough office and possibly the local newspaper will move its newsroom to a hub operation several hundred miles from the City.
The so called Community TV station is never likely to happen, although one group is still soliciting for 'donations' To understand why it won't happen just read the latest Ofcom directives.
The Combined Authority will see others who have not been supportive of Peterborough, tactically using their votes against anything we might try and do.
The Cabinet agreed to:
Reasons for the decision:
Alternative options considered:
Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:
Date of decision: 17/11/2016
- It is not anticipated that there will be any documents other than the report and relevant appendices to be published.
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