Peterborough continuing to punch above it’s weight

The city has been highlighted once again for its growth, innovation and jobs. In the annual Cities Outlook report Peterborough appears in the top ten UK cities for a number of important measures. I believe that we are certainly punching above our weight.

Pleasingly, we were rated fourth for housing growth, having delivered 900 new homes in a single year. With the announcement that the first developer has signed up to Fletton Quays, and numerous other developments coming forward, we hope to be performing well in this measure going forward.

We continue to be seen as a city for innovation, appearing seventh for the number of patents granted in 2014. And because of our strength as a centre of business, we are seventh for the ratio of private sector jobs to public sector. Less than one in three workers are employed in the public sector, while in places like Oxford, the level is around 50:50.


Investing in Peterborough’s economic development

Peterborough is a hothouse for new businesses, suggested some encouraging research this week. The figures predict a record year for start-up companies in the city, with more than 550 new businesses expected to launch between January and March this year.

The number of new companies has grown steadily over the last few years and just shows how our reputation as a great business location is attracting and inspiring new ventures.

There are lots of reasons for that – our world-leading digital infrastructure, access to superior road and rail networks and operational cost-effectiveness of doing business are just a few examples. We’re also building on our strong reputation within a number of important business sectors including energy and environment, digital and creative and the financial industry.


Selective Licensing will help us tackle rogue landlords

Something that I believe will make a noticeable difference to our city over the coming years is the introduction of a selective licencing scheme.  As you know we went out to consultation on new proposals in October and it comes to an end today.

Designed to protect vulnerable tenants in our city and support good landlords, the scheme will require property landlords in a number of city wards to apply for a licence.

As part of the consultation we held a number of public events to hear people’s thoughts on the proposals and listen to any ideas they might have had. We also sent letters to around 40,000 residents, landlords and businesses. In total we’ve heard from well over 1,000 people.

The next stage is for one of our scrutiny committees to give their comments and recommendations on the changes we’ve made to our proposed scheme following the consultation.

This is an important initiative which will tackle poor living conditions, overcrowding and rogue landlords that operate in our city.  We have also been working with the many good landlords in the city to ensure they have the support they need to tackle anti-social tenants.

Under the scheme, landlords would have to buy a licence to rent out their property in certain areas of the city.  If the landlord has been professionally accredited the fee would be £50 for five years.  If they aren’t accredited the fee would rise to £600 for the same period, the equivalent of £10 per month.

The scheme will last for five years and a new one would have to be proposed if we needed to continue it beyond this.

In total, if approved over the coming months, the scheme will cover over 6,000 properties in 356 city streets across Peterborough. Or around 38 per cent of the city’s private rented stock.

All areas proposed had a certain level of private rented accommodation and met at least five or all six of the criteria set out within The Housing Act – that included high levels of migration, anti-social behaviour and poor property conditions.

I am determined to drive up living standards in areas of the city and, if approved, we will prosecute landlords who do not meet the standards set out in our selective licensing scheme.

It’s new year – how about a new you?

It’s the time of year many of us resolve to make a fresh start and change our lives for the better.

If you want to get fit, stop smoking, recycle more, or lend a helping hand in your community then there are lots of facilities, groups and services in Peterborough to help you reach your goal.

Getting fit…

Peterborough’s leisure provider Vivacity is offering no joining fee at its six gyms during January.

The facilities available to use at the gyms – in particular, at the new Vivacity Premier Fitness in Hampton – are superb. These include swimming pools and state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

If you like to set yourself a goal, runners are already lining up to be part of the Perkins Great Eastern Run 2016. A record number of people have pre-registered for the event, which falls on Sunday 9 October, you can register your interest for the half marathon and fun run using the online form.

My wife and I were among the 7,000 people that took part in last year’s event, by completing the 5k Anna’s Hope fun run which takes place alongside the half marathon.