Communities stand together in the face of terrorism. This position couldn’t be clearer at present.
The families of those who lost loved ones during the tragic events in London have been in my thoughts, as I am sure they have yours; but from such terrible adversity does come a ray of positivity, and that is in the steadfast, resolute reaction we have seen.
The best response to horrific attacks as took place in Westminster is to make sure we come together in solidarity and not allow any terrorist activity to divide us.
An overwhelming showing of unity has shone all over the UK in the past week and our great city of Peterborough remains united in defiance against such extremism.
We are fortunate to live in a city that has people from all manner of backgrounds, faiths and cultures, many of whom are working together to help build an even more cohesive, united society.
Community cohesion is about recognising that we may not all be the same, but we treat each other with equality, mutual respect and understanding.
I am proud of the way our city centre looks with many areas surrounding Cathedral Square having recently undergone upgrades and renovation.
With this inviting city centre it is important that we make it a place that everyone is able to enjoy, setting a good impression to residents and visitors alike, and this means ensuring any anti-social behaviour is at an absolute minimum.
This week we announced that an order to give our enforcement officers additional powers to deal with anti-social behaviour is likely to be implemented next month.
It will be an area for the SaferPeterborough Prevention and Enforcement Service team to take forward and the order will give officers the ability to issue a fixed penalty notice to perpetrators of unacceptable behaviour such as littering, begging and unauthorised cycling on Bridge Street.
Other offences under this Public Spaces Protection Order will include spitting, dangerous cycling and drinking in public and fines will be set at £80 with an early repayment option of £60.
Peterborough has seen an increase in the number of households that have been accepted as homeless by the council – a situation that sadly is being mirrored in many other towns and cities across the UK.
In 2015 the council was supporting approximately 100 households in temporary accommodation; families we owe a full housing duty to and must provide with a home.
That situation has dramatically changed over the past year and we are currently supporting more than 200 households in temporary accommodation. The reasons behind it are complex and a mix of national and local pressures, but it is our responsibility to manage it and support those that we have a duty to.
With limited resources available to us we are faced with some very tough decisions when we determine how we accommodate those in need.
The wait to learn whether your child has gained a place at the school of your choice can be nerve racking for any parent.
I went through it with my own children and am going through it again now with my grandchildren.
Getting the right school for your child is a key part of them doing well in their education and being able to achieve their full potential. That is why our admissions team works closely with schools and neighbouring authorities to ensure as many parents as possible receive a place for their child at a preferred school.
We have a strong track record of achieving well above the national average for the number of children offered a place at one of their three preferred schools, and I am pleased to see this trend continuing.
This year a total of 2,465 applications were received on time and 98 per cent of pupils have been offered one of their three preferences, with 87 per cent of pupils set to start at their preferred school this September. This is up from 81 per cent in 2014.
Peterborough is the UK’s fourth fastest growing city in the UK and we need to modernise our services, facilities and infrastructure to accommodate this, not least our pathways, roads and highways.
I am proud of the great work that has been going on in our city centre in recent years and months to regenerate areas including Cathedral Square, Cowgate, Bourges Boulevard and, most recently, Lower Bridge Street.
Plans to enhance the look of this busy area around Town Bridge and the magistrates’ court are really starting to take shape as Peterborough Highway Services’ construction team work on the comprehensive city centre refurbishment programme.
Spending time sat in traffic congestion is no-one’s idea of fun and alleviating this is one factor behind the next phase of works which is at Bishop’s Road, extending from the entrance of the Wirrina car park up to the Rivergate roundabout.
We know this area attracts traffic congestion during peak hours so the work will help to improve this and make it a better and safer area to use for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.