All in dual course – the roads to Peterborough’s success

One of the many aspects that makes Peterborough a great place to do business is our fantastic road system and proximity to cities such as London and Birmingham and the east coast ports.

It’s essential for businesses to have this kind of connectivity and it’s also important that our residents are able to get to work, school and go about their daily lives without being sat in congestion, whether travelling by car, bike or bus.

That is why we have spent millions of pounds in recent years upgrading our road network so that people can navigate our city with relative ease and why we are planning our transport system of the future.

I’m not saying we are congestion free, in this day and age with the number of vehicles on our roads that’s impossible, but at peak times you can travel from one end of our city to the other relatively quickly when compared to the likes of Cambridge and Coventry. At peak times I can get into Peterborough city centre from my home in Glinton within 20 minutes.

In recent years we’ve increased capacity at a number of locations, including the Fletton Parkway, junction 20 of the A47 with the A15 and junction 5 of the Frank Perkins parkway at Boongate. We’re currently working on the A15/A47 junction 18 to add an additional lane, road crossings, and to strengthen and repair the footbridge.

The Leader stands with colleagues on Rhubarb Bridge

Without these investments in our roads and crossings the city could not have grown the way it has in recent years, which has brought with it additional investment, jobs and housing.

Later this month I will be attending a reception at Parliament hosted by Brandon Lewis MP to support the campaign to dual another important route for our city, the A47 to Lowestoft.

This road joins the city with the east coast and is of national strategic importance, linking the Midlands with Eastern seaports and acts as an economic artery that runs through Peterborough.

Dualling the remaining sections would bring huge benefits, reducing journey times and congestion and supporting our vision to see more local economic growth.

This is just one of the projects we are supporting and leading to plan our transport system for the future to ensure our roads, bridges and crossings can cope with increasing levels of demand.

As part of this we are considering the possibility of having a rapid transport system here, such as underground or overground light rail, if the money was available to do so. This isn’t something we need now, but it might be in the future as the city continues to grow and develop.

We also have funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to investigate the potential for a number of other improvements including the Nene Parkway junction 15, dualling a short section of the A16 to unlock the Norwood development and a series of improvements to support the university on the Embankment.

If these schemes are recommended, we will then look to secure funding to make them happen, so that Peterborough can remain one of the easier to navigate cities in the UK. (more…)

Commercial strategy is paying off

This month my Cabinet colleagues and I will be asked to approve the council’s first commercial strategy.

It doesn’t sound the most exciting document I admit, but it’s actually very important as it sets out how we’ll further generate income by selling our services, investing and operating more like a business.

With our government funding only going one way, we couldn’t deliver a balanced budget and provide the services our residents rely upon without generating the income we do.

Last year we made £72million through investments, sharing of services, providing services for other organisations, property rental and fees and charges.

For example, we generated £2.7million by selling the energy produced by our energy from waste plant and our commercial property portfolio which is worth £21million generates an annual income of around £3million – that’s a 14 per cent return.

We share our planning and trading standards departments with other councils, bringing in £4million annually and our £15million loan to Propiteer Hotels Ltd for the building of the new Hilton hotel at Fletton Quays will make us £500,000.

impression fletton quays

Our sharing of services with Cambridgeshire County Council, in particular the chief executive and her senior leadership team, has delivered sizeable savings.

I could go on, but these are just a few of the ways we’re generating income and working in a more commercial way to be able to provide the services you need, despite an 80 per cent cut in our government funding.

And with that funding due to decrease even further in years to come, we have got to find more ways of generating our own income. Our commercial strategy will help us to do that. (more…)

Peterborough prepares for Christmas

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is now less than two weeks away, but then again 2018 has flown by at some pace.

If like me you leave your Christmas shopping until the last minute, then I’m sure the next few days will be busy as you prepare for the big day.

Please do be aware, however, that over the Christmas and New Year period, our council offices will be closing their doors.

Our main offices, including Sand Martin House, Bayard Place and the Town Hall will be closed from noon on Monday 24 December until Wednesday 2 January 2019, with no face-to-face services available.

Peterborough Offices

However, the council’s call centre will open from Thursday 27 December to Monday 31 December between the hours of 9am and 5pm and there will also be support in place for key services.

Our office buildings and call centre will open as usual on January 2.

The other key change to remember is that black and green bin collection days alter between Christmas and New Year. Full details about office closures and bin collection changes available here. (more…)

Highways team on the right road

Keeping the city’s roads in tip top condition is an utmost priority for our highways team and they do a sterling job all year round.

Thanks to their hard work, the council has been ranked as the top highway and transport authority in the eastern region for the second year in a row.

The authority scored highly in the 2018 National Highways and Transport (NHT) survey which asked residents across the country for their views on highway and transport services.

The NHT conducts the survey each year to determine public satisfaction on service delivered by local authorities.

Peterborough City Council was ranked as the best highway authority in the eastern region and nationally, was ranked 27th out of 112 highway authorities.

At national level PCC was given a 55 per cent satisfaction score, with the average being 53 per cent.

I would like to say a big well done to the team and I know that they will continue to ensure that the city’s roads are in the best possible condition. (more…)

Sizable funding received from Central Government

This week we received three sizeable pots of money from Central Government.

Our bid for £1million to become an Integrated Pilot Area was successful. It will boost opportunities for young people, improve opportunities for work and continue to develop community cohesion.

We’ve also received £1.5million of funding to improve our roads after last year’s bashing from the ‘Beast from the East’.

Lastly, we’ve teamed up with eight local authorities and AgilityEco to secure £6.5million to install central heating for the first time in up to 1,500 homes, including those at St Michael’s Gate.

Not bad for just a week, let’s hope next week is the same!

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Helping the local economy grow

It has taken a few months to complete, but I am delighted to say that the new junction in Bourges Boulevard is now finished.

The junction is making it easier for motorists to access the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) car park close to Peterborough railway station, which is heavily used by rail commuters.

Not only that but a new pedestrian crossing which has been installed as part of the work is improving access to and from the city centre.

I went to have a look earlier this week and must say I’m very impressed with the finished work.

Construction got under way back in February and has seen ramped access to the car park created, as well as a right turn lane and carriageway re-surfacing.

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Delight as homes get green light

The news that our Children’s Services department has been rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted inspectors comes as music to my ears.

The latest rating, following a three week inspection last month, represents significant progress on its previous ranking in 2015 when it was deemed to be ‘requiring improvement’.

The inspectors said services for children who need help and protection, children in care and those leaving care was good, that leadership was good and they gave an overall rating of good for the effectiveness of children’s services.

They also praised the ‘stable and effective senior leadership team which has driven improvement at pace,’ with a ‘strong learning culture’.

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A great effort to keep roads open

Last week saw temperatures take a plunge and our city was blanketed in a thick layer of snow for the first time in a long while.

Whilst snowy scenery always looks picturesque and gives youngsters a chance to get creative, the conditions often end up causing people problems, especially when it comes to travelling.

Our highways and gritting teams stepped up to the challenge, with the gritters covering a total of 4,818 kilometres, equating to 46 per cent of our road network and using over 400 tonnes of rock salt.

PCC gritting lorries

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Roadworks pain will lead to gain

One topic that caused a lot of conversation in Peterborough recently was a plan for an ‘urban beach’ as part of the Fletton Quays development.

The story gathered plenty of reaction after being picked up by the local media, perhaps understandably given I’m pretty sure the words Peterborough and beach have never been mentioned in the same sentence before!

To make it clear, should this proposal for an ‘urban beach’ go ahead it would be funded by Weston Homes, the company behind the build of the apartments at Fletton Quays, and not the city council – as people may have been initially led to believe.

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Help the council to save local water park

You may have seen in the news this week, that the viability of a rapid transport system in Peterborough is going to be considered.

Last week the board of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority agreed to start work on a report to look in to the possibility of a new metro system in Cambridge.

At this stage all we will be doing is taking into account a number of factors, such as improving connections from one area of the city to another,  and considering whether this system could potentially work in Peterborough.

It’s far too early for anyone to say what the outcome will be, but I think it is only right that we consider what sort of transport systems the city may need in years to come.

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