Education review published for Peterborough

Towards the end of last year I made a personal commitment to leave no stone unturned in trying to understand whether there was anything more that could be done to improve the education offered to children and young people.

You may recall that I spoke of a unique set of challenges experienced by schools, which I and many others believed helped to explain why Peterborough is faced with the highly unusual scenario of being one of the best areas of the country for the number of schools judged good or outstanding by Ofsted, yet attainment being one of the weakest.

The task that I set Councillor Lynne Ayres, cabinet member for education for the city council, was to lead a review of education to see whether there was anything more that we, the schools and anyone else involved in education could be doing and to test whether the challenges that many people believe exist in Peterborough are fair and accurate.

This was against the context of changing national legislation in relation to the provision of education generally which, in particular, reduces the council’s role and responsibility in relation to the management of schools and its ability to intervene in the running of schools. The review was also commissioned because of the publication of Key Stage 2 results which placed Peterborough 151st out of 152 local authorities in England.


City has it all from beer to opera

I often use my column to talk about how we are striving to improve life in Peterborough for all whether it’s investment in the city centre or plans to generate new jobs or housing.

Equally important is making sure our city is a great place to live and the kind of place people want to visit.

We’re in the midst of one of the busiest periods of our events calendar and this week has seen the return of one of the city’s most popular events.

Thousands of visitors from far and wide will be attending the Peterborough CAMRA Beer Festival over the course of five days, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Many of the breweries who make up the festival are local to the area and I met with one, Mile Tree Brewery, last week.

John Holdich on the Embankment with Mile Tree BreweryStanding by the river with Mile Tree Brewery

The brewery is relocating from Wisbech to Peterborough and is toasting the move by dedicating a beer to the city.

I met with Richard from the brewery and he told me the beer’s name, Quays, was inspired by the new Fletton Quays development as he wanted to link to Peterborough’s growth. I’ll raise a glass to that!


We’re listening over Rhubarb Bridge

Last week residents attended a public meeting to discuss our detailed plans for much-needed work on junction 18 of the A47/A15 – including the replacement of the footbridges with pedestrian crossings.

I attended a meeting for councillors and key stakeholders the week before and saw the state that the bridge is in and the plans for the proposed works. I’ve also had a number of conversations with people and have listened to what the public have said.  

The proposed scheme was scrutinised and agreed by Council as part of the Local Transport Plan which was adopted last year.

Subsequently, a £5.5million budget for these works, including the removal of bridges, was agreed as part of the 2017/18 budget by Council in March.   


New orders to tackle anti-social behaviour

I’ve learned over the years that you often need to give things time before calling it a success or failure.

Take cycling on Bridge Street for example. In May we began fining people for unauthorised cycling as part of a new city centre Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which aims to tackle a range of anti-social behaviour. At the time there were some who doubted whether our approach would lead to a reduction in cycling along the busy shopping street.

But less than three months on feelings have changed and people are noticing an increase in the number of people dismounting and walking the short distance with their bike – including the Peterborough Telegraph.

The figures back it up too – in the first two weeks we fined 195 people, but in the past two weeks it’s less than half, 84.

It’s been a difficult issue for us, as we know that although many people support our view that allowing cyclists to use Bridge Street during the day can pose a danger to pedestrians, there are those that think this targeted measure means we don’t support cycling in the city.