Peterborough’s unsung heroes honoured with Civic Awards

Earlier this week the city got a chance to say thank you to some of its unsung heroes.

The Peterborough Civic Awards honour those people or organisations that go above and beyond to help out in the community.

This is the third time we’ve held the awards and it was fantastic to hear about what all the winners have achieved to make Peterborough an even better place to live.

I’d just like to highlight a few of those that received an award on Tuesday, some I’ve known for many years. I’d mention more but I have to keep to a word limit – so don’t be offended if I’ve left you out!


Promoting the importance of good school attendance rates

Headteachers having the option to fine parents for taking their children out of school has been a hot topic since the government clamped down on term-time absence four years ago.

I have great sympathy with parents who try and avoid more costly holidays, and I’m aware that for some families going away during term time is the difference between having a holiday and not because of the huge cost difference.

But last week’s Supreme Court ruling in the case of Jon Platt from the Isle of Wight, who was fined £120 for taking his daughter out of school for a holiday to Florida, has helped highlight the need for parents to heed the rules and for their children to attend school regularly, unless there are exceptional or unavoidable circumstances.

I receive lots of emails and letters from parents who are unhappy that they cannot take their children out of school without the risk of a fine.

But there are very good reasons which are in the best interests of a child’s education as to why the rules apply. It’s so important that children attend school so that they can reach their full potential. It is more difficult for children to do this when they are being taken out of school during term time.


Law needs changing following city experience

As a local authority, Peterborough City Council is a member of the national Local Government Association and I recently met with its chairman, Lord Porter.

I wrote to Lord Porter in December on the matter of homelessness and how the situation we have experienced in Peterborough could be examined at a national level.

The central focus of this letter was around St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell and I was keen to meet Lord Porter to discuss how we can work together to try and urgently stop a situation like this from happening again.

Lord Porter understood the situation that we face in Peterborough and said he had taken an interest in the story.

He recognised that it was unfair that landlords can serve notice on such a large number of people in one street. He would welcome a change that would place a cap which might, for example, restrict the number of properties in a particular area or street that a landlord could do this.