Our city centre is a real source of pride for me. The work we’ve done in recent years has made it spacious and welcoming and I believe it’s never looked better.
The extensive transformation of Bridge Street through to Cathedral Square and Long Causeway has attracted significant new investment into the heart of our city.
We now have a vast array of new and attractive places for everyone to shop in, eat, have fun or just simply relax in.
And in case you’re thinking, ‘well, John would say that’ – it’s not just me who shares this view.
Last week, we received a phone call out of the blue from BBC Radio Kent, after its producer had visited Peterborough. He was thoroughly impressed with our city centre and described it as having a cafe culture look and feel, reminiscent of a European city.
He wanted us to talk on the radio station to share the secrets of our success, in the hope that these could be mirrored in Chatham.
Cabinet member councillor Marco Cereste spoke to the station on Monday about the work that we and our partners have done over the past decade to help revitalise the area.
He pointed out that ten years ago, the city centre would virtually shut down at 5pm and we have worked hard to inject some life into it after hours to attract more residents, visitors and businesses.
Not ones to be complacent, we’re currently in the process of setting up a Business Improvement District, which will help support and promote city centre shops.
All UK high streets have had a tough few years following the rise of online shopping, so please keep using them. For me, nothing beats browsing for an item in real life. (more…)
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.
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…)
This week we celebrated a momentous occasion and welcomed the first staff to our new local authority trading company.
Just before Christmas we made the landmark decision to set up our own company, Peterborough Limited, which I like to call the ‘people’s company’. It will deliver services for residents that were previously provided by Amey.
Bringing services such as waste and recycling and building cleaning back in house gives us greater control over how these services are provided and allows us to better monitor them so that they can constantly improve. It also allows us to provide better value for money.
We’re not bringing all of the services and 449 employees back from Amey into Peterborough Limited in one go, we are doing it in a phased approach to ensure that the best quality of service is maintained.
Building cleaning moved across on Monday and I was delighted to meet some of the staff at the Town Hall. They were all really excited about moving back to the council and the plans that we have to develop these services.
Waste and recycling collections and passenger transport will transfer on 1 April, followed by building maintenance, street cleansing and grounds maintenance on 4 May.
For residents there will be little obvious change, but we will be striving to ensure that all the services we provide are of the highest quality so that our city is clean and well maintained.
We will also be looking to commercialise the services that we provide, to add to the growing number of ways we are generating income to support our budget. I’ll be able to tell you more about that in the coming months. (more…)
Anyone who knows me will tell you how committed I am to seeing a fully fledged-university in Peterborough.
It’s the single biggest thing we can do to stop our talented young people from leaving to build their lives elsewhere and ensures that our businesses have a good crop of people with the skills and talent they need to apply for jobs.
We’re closer than ever to there being a dedicated Peterborough University. University Centre Peterborough (UCP) is continuing to work towards gaining degree awarding powers and research is ongoing into the type of courses which will meet the needs of students and businesses. An appraisal is also underway of the Bishop’s Road site where the development of a new campus for up to 2,000 students is proposed.
Developing an independent university is an exciting but complex process and although I would like it to happen tomorrow, it takes time to achieve.
In the meantime, the number of people studying degrees in the city is increasing year on year, with double the number of young people from our schools starting a degree with UCP in 2018 compared to the year before. That’s fantastic news and proof that more of our young people are improving their career options.
I was also impressed to hear that more than 250 students graduated last year with good numbers achieving the higher grades. Eighty-eight per cent of integrated engineering students and 57 per cent of sociology students achieved a first class honours, which is fantastic.
The undergraduate provision at UCP has also continued to grow with the launch of new degrees in digital arts, digital marketing, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical and manufacturing engineering and five new business management degrees.
Having a fully-fledged university will result in significant economic benefits for the whole city, and at the rate we’re progressing, it may not be that far into the future that we achieve it.
Click here for more information about the degree courses available in Peterborough.
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…)
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.
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…)
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…)
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!
There is an old saying that every great city is only that way because of the people who live there.
Well, Sunday’s Civic Remembrance service in the city centre demonstrated just how great the people of Peterborough truly are.
I’ve not seen Bridge Street so packed for a long time – there must have been thousands of people who came along to pay their respects.
This year’s event was especially poignant as not only did Remembrance Day fall on a Sunday but the occasion also marked 100 years since the signing of the Armistice which led to the end of the First World War.
We were anticipating big crowds and put up a giant TV screen in Cathedral Square so that people could watch the military parade along Bridge Street, wreath laying by the war memorial and two minute silence which was impeccably observed.
We also streamed live footage from the event on the council’s Facebook page and I’m informed that many people watched this online.
So I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came along – you are a credit to our wonderful city.
I know that the servicemen and women who attended were deeply touched by the huge turnout and saw firsthand that the people of Peterborough will never forget those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.