Peterborough Conservatives Up in Arms Over Council Cuts and Rate Rise

08:15 Monday 23rd January 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

BBC PAUL STAINTON: Lollipop ladies .. it’s caused an absolute furore, and your proposals to get rid of lollipop patrols across the city, in particular in places where it’s incredibly dangerous to cross the road. I’m thinking Newark Hill Primary, I’m thinking Eastfield Road, with cars whizzing up and down there. The first time a child gets knocked down, it’s on your heads, isn’t it, as councillors? Are you going to row back from that now? Is the Council going to see sense on that?
DEPUTY LEADER CLLR MATTHEW LEE: These proposals are all out for consultation ..
BBC PAUL STAINTON: But who came up with that idea?
DEPUTY LEADER CLLR MATTHEW LEE: What we did last year was we put forward a number of proposals. We listened to what the public said, and where we could maek changes we did make changes.
BBC PAUL STAINTON: Do you expect that to go through? Do you expect that to be a proposal that actually gets through?
DEPUTY LEADER CLLR MATTHEW LEE: I expect it will be one that will be debated very hard and very robustly by other councillors, because of the public opinion.
BBC PAUL STAINTON: This is what Cllr. John Peach had to say earlier. (TAPE)
CONSERVATIVE CLLR JOHN PEACH: People do feel that it’s possibly, for the amount of money we’re saving, not really making the cuts and preserving the lollipop ladies, school crossing patrols, and of course also the safety of children is a big issue to the Council, so I am hoping to persuade my colleagues that possibly that isn’t the way to go forward, and that we should retain the lollipop ladies now. (LIVE)
BBC PAUL STAINTON: Well we’ve got Cllr Mike Fletcher on the phone as well. I won’t put you against each other, but I will just have a quick chat with Mike. Mike, morning.
CLLR MIKE FLETCHER: Good morning Paul.
BBC PAUL STAINTON: What’s your view on this lollipop lady proposal?
CONSERVATIVE CLLR MIKE FLETCHER:  ..No, I won’t be voting for anything like cutting lollipop ladies out. I look at it and I think, Oh what a tangled web. It’s not long ago consultants had saved £20 million, then it became £30 million, then it was suddenly £60 million, and then it became £68 million. Now we’re talking about putting council tax up 3%. I won’t be voting for it, and my principles will say I will resign rather than vote for this sort of thing. We’ve got people there who are being paid to do jobs that they have neither the experience for, nor the qualifications, and I think it’s about time some of the decent councillors examined their conscience and said, enough is enough. Our loyalty should be to the people of Peterborough.
BBC PAUL STAINTON: Mike, thank you for that. We’ll leave it there. I think you made your point very forcibly. Mike in Bretton says, “Hello Paul. I can’t see the point of going to these public meetings. This Council is so bloody minded, they won’t take any notice of what the public say.” How do you over come what Mike what saying there, and what Mike in Bretton has to say there, that there’s a view that you won’t listen, whatever they say?
DEPUTY LEADER CLLR MATTHEW LEE: Well we do. And last year we did, and we made changes, and we reversed some of the decisions, and we made other changes which lessened the impact. And as a decent councillor, I think very long and hard about the services that are provided in my ward, and across the city. These are really difficult decisions. Nobody wants to make decisions about deductions. We always want to be making decisions about spending more and doing more.
BBC PAUL STAINTON: Isn’t it obvious though, if you were to go ahead with getting rid of lollipop patrols in busy areas of Peterborough, you’re putting children’s safety at risk. And the first time one gets knocked over, and you see a crumpled bike in the middle of Eastfield Road, it’s on your conscience,. isn’t it?
DEPUTY LEADER CLLR MATTHEW LEE: This is exactly the issues we deal with. Every decision we make has risk, and some, like these, have more risk than others.
PAUL STAINTON: Risk to children?
DEPUTY LEADER CLLR MATTHEW LEE: And this Council has always prioritised children’s services, and the services that we provide to the very vulnerable in this city. And I think John, like many others, John Peach, like many other councillors, are making their views heard, because he’s been contacted by the public. And that’s exactly what we want. We want the public to say, this is acceptable, this isn’t acceptable. We want to make some changes. We can’t always promise to make those changes, but that’s what we do want. And that’s what we responded to in the past, and we will continue to do.