Our city is built on a long history of migration. We are diverse, vibrant and proud to celebrate our differences as together these are the things that unites us.
Because of this, we are a welcoming city and on the whole I think that people from different backgrounds get on well together. You only have to attend one of the many cultural festivals we host in the city each year, such as the Italian or Diwali events, to see that. But of course there is more we can all do to bring people together to break down barriers.
Last year we were recognised for our community work by the government, who invited Peterborough to be one of five areas to take part in its integrated communities strategy, to improve and showcase successful integration across the UK.
As part of this, we’ve just launched the Peterborough Communities Fund which is an opportunity for people to make a real difference in their community.
Local groups and organisations can apply for funds to deliver projects that bring our communities together, whatever their background, race or religion.
People can apply for grants of up to £20,000 – but we’re equally happy if you just need a few hundred pounds; we know that often just a small amount of funding can make a huge difference.
Applications are invited from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors and we also welcome joint bids from groups who want to bring communities together. Ideas that have the potential to run and run are particularly welcome. (more…)
Following the landmark decision taken by our cabinet in December, we are on track to set up our first Local Authority Trading Company.
This signals a major new direction for delivering many council services and will be a ‘people’s company’ improving the services we provide for residents and businesses across the city.
We are now working with staff to deliver a new company that invests in them and the services we provide.
The transfer of services will follow a phased approach: First to launch is building cleaning, then passenger transport and waste and recycling collections in April. Finally, building maintenance, street cleansing and grounds maintenance in May.
This will help to manage the complexity and scale of the task which involves the transferring of 449 employees, and all the assets and vehicles associated with these services. It will ensure a smooth transfer and minimal disruption for residents. (more…)
No one should have to sleep rough in our city. There are always enough beds in our shelters and hostels to make sure this is the case.
However, reducing the number of rough sleepers is not as simple as just providing beds.
Each rough sleeper on our streets has their own individual story to tell. And as such, needs individual support to help them into accommodation.
Did you know that the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47? That’s a good 30 years less than the national average and this is why our ultimate aim is to support those sleeping rough in getting off the streets for good.
Back in the autumn we teamed up with partners to help to launch the Safer Off The Streets campaign, aimed at ending rough sleepers in the city once and for all.
The scheme features a number of initiatives which are already making a positive difference.
These include a new contactless card window outside the Argo Lounge in St Peter’s Arcade, allowing people to make instant secure £3 donations.
In just over two months, £2,345 has been pledged to the partnership and many rough sleepers have been supported in getting off the streets for good, which is a fantastic start!
If you haven’t already made a donation, please visit the contactless card window at Argo Lounge or visit the donations page on the Safer Off The Streets website.
Fakes send out serious message
Peterborough has hit the national headlines not once, but twice this week. The Sun and The Mirror picked up on a story which you might have seen in this paper last week about 1,000 imported teddy bears which were destroyed by our Trading Standards team.
While they looked nice and cuddly, the eyes and noses on the teddy bears were badly designed and could easily fall off, creating a choking hazard for babies and young children.
There is serious message here – please be careful when buying toys in the run up to Christmas.
On Monday, our city made the national headlines again, this time for taking part in a postal and proxy voting pilot for the local elections in May 2019.
You might remember, Peterborough was part of a similar pilot last year which lead to a 47 per cent reduction in postal vote rejection rates.
It will focus on the importance of individuals completing their postal vote themselves and requiring anybody who has been appointed as a proxy to vote on someone else’s behalf to supply photographic ID at the polling station.
We take the issue of election fraud extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that all elections are fair processes.
This spring we announced we would be offering private landlords and empty home owners hassle-free rent by housing homeless families.
I’m pleased to say the scheme has been a massive success, with over 30 families now housed in this way across the city.
By acting as a guarantor for home owners, the council has been able to quickly increase its temporary accommodation stock and reduce costs spent on B&B style accommodation.
Home owners get the security that comes from having the council acting as a letting agency and the knowledge they are helping Peterborough families who have fallen on hard times.
Last week we launched a consultation on the second part of our budget for the next financial year, outlining how we plan to deliver savings against a severely challenging backdrop.
Continued reductions to the council’s revenue support grant from central government, inflation and huge demand pressures mean we are being asked to do much more, with much less money.
I know people have been astounded by the sums we currently spend on adult social care (£67.7 million) but that’s because the demand for this is rising due to an ageing population and protecting vulnerable people is a priority for us.
We make no bones about it, the challenges facing us are substantial.
We received good news this week that our bid for additional funding to help rough sleepers in our city had been successful.
The government grant from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will be for just shy of £285,000.
You may remember in my previous columns this month I have spoken about a visit to the Emmaus homeless charity, in Landbeach, near Cambridge. This provides best practice outreach work which helps get people off the streets and into a stable home and meaningful employment.
These much-needed additional funds will help us to recreate something similar – along with our partners – here in Peterborough.
Well, what a week it has been for Peterborough talent!
This blog is more jam packed than usual, as I want to take the time to congratulate the many, many achievements announced this week.
I’ve always maintained that when it comes to talent, Peterborough more than punches above its weight. For a relatively small city, we have so many talented and dedicated people living here.
Dedicated volunteer wins MBE
First of all, it’s been a great week for Brian Pearce, who will receive an MBE for work at Railworld Wildlife Haven, just days after the organisation won a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, along with Peterborough Sailability.
Budget management is never far from our minds in local government.
Our approach is working. We continue to deliver a balanced budget without cutting vital public services, such as libraries, refuse collection and gritting.
However each year we face rising pressures, such as adult social care and homelessness, which mean we must do more with less government funding.
This year we have decided to implement a rolling budget to allow more time to identify and implement savings throughout the year.
This week we took an important step in improving the standard of temporary housing we provide to homeless households in our city for years to come.
On top of doubling the amount of temporary accommodation in the last 12 months, a decision was made at Monday’s city council cabinet meeting to allocate £4million to invest in temporary housing in Peterborough.
This decision will reduce the number of homeless families accommodated in bed and breakfast-style accommodation, with the aim of stopping the use of Travelodge accommodation.
The accommodation we will purchase, through Medesham Homes (a joint property development company operated by the council and Cross Keys Homes) includes 29 new homes in Midland Road and 40 in Bretton Court. The first of these homes will be renovated and available for families to use this summer.