Peterborough Energy Scheme A Utopian Gamble

07:40 Tuesday 6th November 2012
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The fight against the closure of the two last Council-run care homes in Peterborough will continue, despite the City Council finally deciding they will shut. At a Cabinet meeting yesterday, it was agreed that Greenwood House will shut at the end of November, Welland House in March next year. But now five councillors are requesting a special Full Council meeting in the hope they can still change the ruling. It follows a huge public outcry from carers, residents, and their fanilies, who dispute the homes aren’t fit for purpose, and better care can be provided by the independent sector. .. The Council’s plans to use farmers’ fields to build a series of green energy plants were also approved and caused much consternation. Joining us now is Councillor Dave Harrington. He’s the Leader of Peterborough’s Independent councillors, and part of the group of councillors who are demanding that both of these issues are debated further at a Full Council meeting.
So you believe that this issue (care home closure) needs to be discussed by Full Council, and also obviously we talked about the green energy plans. That needs to be discussed by Full Council as well?
DAVID HARRINGTON: Yes. I think the energy park, we’re being told by the Leader of the Council that this is the future financial base which will be for the future of the city. This will be the only big earner for the City Council. Well if that’s the case, then we need a lot more comprehensive detail to how that is going to happen. At the moment, we’ve had a report which at the best is very vague in a lot of areas, especially round the financial model, of how this is going to work. And if this is such an important thing for the Council, I think we should have more debate. Yes, OK, it’s gone through Scrutiny, but Scrutiny did point out that the report was very very vague in its content, both in content regarding factual details such as the quality of the land that they intend to take. They have indicated that the land has no long-term value to agriculture, which is total rubbish. This land is very productive. It will be for many years to come, if it’s managed properly which it is being done. And we can’t afford to keep taking land away on a promise that this will be the Utopia for Peterborough. We do know from what our resource tells us that in five years time there will be a great change in the way we access our energy. And I think Peterborough, if it goes ahead now, will find itself in a market that’s swamped with energy. It will be unviable for them to sell the energy, because private companies and large users of electricity will be able to access their own private sources through renewables, which I have no problem with. I think they are a very very useful part of our scheme forward in the energy, but they will be able to access their own. We won’t need to buy energy off the grid. Where will that leave Peterborough City Council in five years time?