Let’s make the best of what the future holds

It’s been quite a week, I’m sure you’ll agree. Last week’s referendum asked the people of this country to make one of the most important and difficult decisions that many of us have ever had to make.

I voted for the country to remain a part of the European Union. My reasons were simple in that I felt leaving would adversely affect our economy and would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Whatever your views, the people have spoken and we now have to get on with it and make the best of what the future may hold.

It is too early to say what the impact will be on our city and our residents, or indeed the country as a whole.

I would, however, like to reassure our communities, particularly those who feel uneasy about the future or indeed how they are being viewed by others.

We have a proud history in Peterborough of being a peaceful, vibrant and tolerant city and it is paramount that this remains the case. I am proud of the fact that we have many different nationalities living together and regardless of the vote this will continue.

It is important to stress that at this stage there has simply been a vote by the people – the government has not taken any formal steps as yet to leave the European Union and has stated publicly that this could take a number of years to achieve.

Through common resolve and respect we can all work together to face a time of significant change. We will stand strong in the face of those who may use the EU referendum result as a tool for division or inciting hatred of any type which has no place in our city.


Remembering Jo Cox MP

On Friday I joined councillors and politicians from across the political spectrum, alongside members of the public, to remember Jo Cox MP.

I’d never met Jo but from listening to the news reports that followed her senseless murder it sounds like she was a dedicated and compassionate politician, mother and human being.  The way that her life was snatched from her family was sickening.

She was out serving her community and doing the job that her constituents wanted her to do.

As you know politicians in Peterborough have had some disagreements.  But one thing that every councillor has in common is that we want to help and improve our local communities.


Careers show to help young people

If like me you have children or grandchildren taking exams at the moment then you’ll know what a stressful time it can be for them.

I hope that all their hard work is rewarded when they get their results and take the next steps in their education or onto employment.

I know from when I visit schools that some young people are clear on their career path, but many others are unsure.

If you’re one of those people then help is available and a good place to start is the East of England Careers Show, organised by The Skills Service, which takes place at the East of England Showground on Friday 15 July.

Everyone you could possibly need to talk about education or careers will be there including the companies offering jobs or apprenticeships, the colleges or universities providing offering the qualifications you need to obtain those jobs, or HR professionals who can critique your CV so that you stand a good chance of standing out from the crowd.

Exhibitors will be grouped into experience zones which include food and drink, technology, wellbeing, creative and business. All the information will be interactive and engaging – you’ll even get to see one of Force India’s 2015 Formula One cars!

Our own local colleges will be at the event too, including Peterborough Regional College, City College Peterborough and University Centre Peterborough. Also there will be the Greater Peterborough University Technical College which opens this September. This new college will offer real-life work experience, plus both academic and technical qualifications in one of two specialisms – engineering and the built environment.

If you’re ready to enter the world of work or study for an apprenticeship, then a good place to start is the website for young people managed by The Skills Service. You can find out about the many opportunities available, as well as volunteering roles and post-16 study options.

Providing opportunities for our young people is crucial if we are to encourage them to remain in our city. This is why we are working with local businesses to build a picture of the skills they need their employees to have which we can then share with our schools, colleges and young people. Our young people can then gain qualifications or train for a job which they can apply for locally, if indeed that’s what they want to do.

Crucial to this is having a fully-fledged university, which is why I was delighted this week to learn that the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP has agreed to fund a team to progress our plans for a university and to support University Centre Peterborough obtain degree awarding powers.

Currently many of our young people have to leave Peterborough to achieve their chosen degree which is a great shame. We want them to have the option to keep learning here and for students outside of the area to study and settle in the city.


Working with police and fire service to tackle anti-social behaviour

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know I am incredibly proud of how our city is evolving.

We have new shops and restaurants opening in our city centre, development is springing up across the wider city creating housing, retail and leisure opportunities and we have lots of new businesses creating jobs for residents.

All of this is helping position Peterborough as a desirable place to live, visit and do business, but equally important is making sure our city is clean, tidy and attractive.

This is why we launched our prevention and enforcement service in April, to tackle issues such as littering, flytipping, illegal parking and other forms of anti-social behaviour that impact on how the city looks and feels.

The new team sees council, police, fire and private sector staff working in one team, sharing powers and information. The idea is that together they can offer a quicker, more visible response to the issues that you have told us matter to you and impact on your quality of life.

Already the team is seeing some fantastic results and so far officers have dealt with 675 incidents of flytipping, evicted 12 unauthorised traveller encampments and tackled 315 cases of anti-social behaviour. They’ve also arranged the removal of 131 abandoned vehicles, cleared 264 rubbish accumulations and issued 2,103 parking penalty charge notices.

These figures are impressive and illustrate that by working together with our partners we are a stronger force.