Please stay safe over Christmas and New Year

When I heard the news on Saturday that Peterborough had been placed into Tier 4 restrictions by the government I was deeply saddened.

I always aim to be a glass half full person, looking for the positives in any situation and it’s been tough to do this of late.

However, with the vaccine rollout continuing there is hope for the future and by following the national guidance there is a chance life could return to normal by next spring.

But in the meantime, I can’t emphasise enough how vitally important it is for everyone to follow the rules and stay safe over the Christmas and New Year period.

The new restrictions have been brought in following rapidly increasing levels of infection in Peterborough, which could be a result of the new variant of the disease seen across London and the south east of England.

The new variant is up to 70 per cent easier to catch, however, there is currently no evidence that the virus leads to worse outcomes than other variants or that the vaccine won’t be successful in immunising people against it.

For anyone still unsure about the new restrictions, Tier 4 rules are similar to the first lockdown restrictions, meaning that non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms/leisure and entertainment venues have to close and people should only travel for essential reasons such as work, education or essential shopping.

On top of this, you must reduce your contact with anyone outside your household /support bubble to the absolute minimum. Now I fully understand that sacrificing a traditional Christmas with family and friends will be devastating for many, but I must urge you to do so to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and for the greater good.

It’s also important to be even more rigorous about observing the ‘hands, face, space’ rules that we are all familiar with.

The Tier 4 restrictions are explained fully on the government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home

We appreciate that this will be very difficult for some people, and there is support for those who may be lonely or isolated, or who suddenly need very practical support– and I would encourage them to phone the countywide co-ordination hub on 0345 045 5219.

For anyone whose mental health is being more severely impacted, there is the Lifeline support number 0808 808 2121 which operates daily from 11am to 11pm and for people with a mental health crisis you can phone the NHS 111 number and ask for Option 2.

One thing that has lightened all the darkness this year has been the heart-warming way our communities have pulled together to support one another.

There have been so many great examples of people going the extra distance to help those in need that it would be impossible to mention them all here.

Numerous groups, individuals, businesses and organisations across the city have worked tirelessly to make a real difference.

Sometimes it’s the little things that count, like having someone to talk to and making sure you can get everyday essential items. In ‘normal times’ we took these things for granted but the virus has reminded us how important they are.

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has leant a helping hand and please, if you can, continue this sterling work to help get us through the weeks ahead.

The pandemic has also shone a light on our council’s services, emphasising the key role they play in supporting residents with their lives.

Again, there are simply too many to highlight here, but special mention to our refuse and recycling crews – our “heroes in high vis jackets” as I like to call them, our school staff, teachers and pupils and our highways and maintenance teams.

So many of our residents are key workers – doctors, nurses, police officers, social workers, supermarket workers and many, many other professions – and they all deserve special praise for their efforts this year. If you are having to work this festive period whilst many of us are at home, then thank you.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas. Keep safe and remember online and outside is the safest way to spend time with people.

As always you can rest assured we will continue to work to keep you safe and keep the city moving forwards.

It has of course been a desperately tough year for local businesses and my praise goes out to everyone involved.

As a council we’re fully committed to doing everything we can to support local firms and we’re reminding them that they can apply for grants of up to £3,000 per month to help compensate for having to close during November’s national lockdown and now whilst the city is in tier 4.

To find out if your business is eligible and for more information about the grants visit Peterborough City Council’s website – https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/healthcare/public-health/coronavirus/national-lockdown-grant-scheme.

Finally, I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas. If you are having to work whilst many of us are at home, then thank you.

I also wish you a healthy and happy start to 2021 and remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel next year. (more…)

Please celebrate Christmas differently this year

The past 12 months have been the most challenging that many of us will have encountered and so it is understandable that people are looking forward to some much-needed respite during the festive period.

Christmas is usually the time of year when we all look forward to spending time with family and friends, but with rates of the virus rising in our city and remaining high, we all need to think carefully about with who we choose to spend Christmas with this year.

You’ll be aware that the government has confirmed that people from three different households can spend time together between December 23 and 27 – that’s the same three households across the five days, not three different ones each day.

But I urge you to see this not as a requirement, but a permission if you can make it as safe as possible for everyone involved.

Whilst I’m sure that everyone can’t wait to see their loved ones, please remember that the safest way to spend time with family and friends is either online, on the phone or outside. This advice is particularly important if you or your relatives are elderly or vulnerable.

So instead, you could organise a walk or get together at the local park, or have a family get together online. Remember, if you do meet outdoors, you must be socially distanced at all times.

meet outside

If you do meet indoors, try to give each other space and stay two metres apart, wash your hands regularly and open windows for 10-15 minutes every hour or so, to allow good ventilation.  You’re more likely to catch Covid in poorly ventilated places.

Clean all your surfaces, handles and objects that people might touch and have hand sanitiser available too. Try and reduce the number of people in one room, meet in the largest space possible and rearrange furniture to make more space.

If you’re going out Christmas shopping, remember your face mask and hand sanitiser. Keep your distance from others who are shopping, avoid peak times of the day when stores get busy and try not to queue close together for shops.

I know we continue to ask a lot of our residents, who have already made great sacrifices. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but for now, let’s keep on working together to stop Covid in its tracks.

And please don’t forget that help is at hand if you’re struggling right now. The council’s coordination hub is continuing to support families in need of help and everyday essentials. You can contact the hub by visiting the council’s coronavirus webpage or by calling 01733 747474. (more…)

Construction of ARU Peterborough begins

Our exciting regeneration plans for Peterborough are the most ambitious this city has seen for decades and a real source of personal pride.

A key part of these plans is ARU Peterborough, the city’s new £30 million university and this week marked the very start of its construction.

On Tuesday I gathered with James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of ARU, for a special sod cutting ceremony at the site.

Sod cutting

Despite the freezing conditions this event really warmed my heart because it felt like such a significant moment in the project, which has been several years in the making.

I can’t wait to see ARU constructed and the benefits it will bring to our city and the region will be enormous and last for generations to come.

Our ambition is to launch a job creating, employment-focussed university that will deliver courses targeted specifically towards industries across Peterborough where demand currently outstrips availability of skilled workers.

The university is on track to open in September 2022, catering initially for 2,000 students, with numbers projected to rise to 5,000 by 2025 and 12,500 by 2030.

In the first five years after opening, it will create an initial 170 university jobs and 300 supply chain jobs, in addition to 50 temporary construction jobs while it is being built.

The ARU is part of our commitment to ensuring Peterborough is a great place to live, work and relax for years to come.

With the Fletton Quays development progressing at pace, the city centre recently transformed and the regeneration of the Station Quarter, North Westgate and Northminster all in the pipeline, the city’s time really is now. (more…)

New Covid marshals join dedicated team

With the national lockdown ending this week and Peterborough moving into Tier Two of the new system, our efforts to control the spread of Coronavirus are continuing in earnest.

Rates of the virus across Peterborough remain high – they’re not reducing at the same rate as many other areas – so we are doing everything we can to get our residents and businesses to pull together to stop Covid in its tracks.

One of the most visible ways we are making a difference is through our dedicated team of Covid marshals.

Ten marshals have been out on patrol in hotspot areas over the past month, speaking to residents, shoppers and businesses, offering advice and guidance about the national safety rules and explaining how people can keep themselves and others safe.

covid marshal

Twenty new marshals joined the team on Monday to increase the amount of time spent engaging with people in those areas where there is a higher prevalence of Covid.

The marshals have been a really positive addition for us, offering a reassuring presence in our communities and providing us with valuable feedback. Police patrols are taking place daily as well, with enforcement action taken when needed.

We are also working with a large number of community organisations such as Age UK and Youth Inspired, faith groups and others to make sure as many people as possible are getting advice. We are translating key messages into other languages and working with community leaders to spread the word widely.

Other measures include advertising public health advice on information boards, lamp posts and roundabouts, using an LED van to share messages, radio advertising, supporting businesses to ensure they are operating safely and allowing staff to work from home. And don’t be surprised if you get a message pop up on your mobile phone when you’re out and about, as we’re trialling text message advertising too.

So as you can see, we have lots going on, but we need your help to control the spread of the virus.

Please remember to only meet indoors with people you live with or who are in your support bubble. You can now meet with up to six people who you do not live with outdoors whilst keeping your distance.

As ever, you can rest assured that we will continue to work hard to keep you safe and to keep the city moving forward. (more…)