Introducing the new Cabinet for Peterborough

Well, our Annual General meeting of Council is over for another year and, as Leader of the Council, I have appointed my Cabinet, who I would like to introduce to you.

I have discussed over the last year the significant financial challenges we face, probably the most testing in the living memory of local government. I have also set out priorities for the Council, which you have told us are important such as fly-tipping, keeping our streets clean, tackling homelessness, looking after vulnerable children and older people and building a strong economy. The Cabinet and I are determined to work timelessly to deliver these priorities for you and so without further ado, here they are! (more…)

Peterborough’s post-election priorities

Last week’s local elections saw the Conservative Party remain as the largest overall party on the council.

I would like to say a big thank you to those who voted and everybody involved in the organisation of the elections.

The council’s elections team has worked tirelessly in recent weeks and they were helped by hundreds of dedicated folk who staffed polling stations and counted votes on the night, so a big well done to you all.

Our focus now turns to the year ahead and delivering the services that residents told us were important to them when we were knocking on doors in the run up to the elections.

election count

Top of our agenda will be those residents who need our help the most – so keeping children and young people safe and allowing them to reach their potential and supporting adults and older people who need our help to remain living independent and happy lives.

We will continue to work closely with our schools to support them to attract good quality teachers and raise attainment levels. Plans for a university continue to progress and within a year I would expect to see planning permission in place for the university campus building on the embankment.

People who are in housing difficulty remain our priority and we will be working with them to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place and where this is not possible, supporting them to find suitable accommodation. We will also continue to support new house building projects so that we have a good supply of housing of all tenures coming forward to meet the needs of our growing city.

I know that the cleanliness of the city is a priority for our residents and that’s why we launched our own trading company to provide waste collection, street cleansing and other services. Doing so has given us more control over the way these services are provided.

We will continue to invest in our roads and cycleways, particularly in areas of the city where we are experiencing high levels of growth, so that people can continue to travel around our city with ease.

I also want us to work more closely with our residents so that they can help us to improve our communities. We are seeing good examples of this across the city, such as the Good Neighbours Scheme in Castor which supports the elderly. I believe we can help encourage many more initiatives like this, therefore putting our communities at the heart of everything we do.

There is much work to be done over the next 12 months to ensure we can continue providing the services that our residents need, against a backdrop of ever decreasing government funding and the need to make millions of pounds of savings.

As the largest party on the council, with support from our fellow opposition members, I believe that we can meet the challenge. (more…)

Peterborough in the papers

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.Fake Teddy Bears

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.

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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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Excited by move to Fletton Quays

As you may be aware, the council is in the process of moving to brand new offices at Fletton Quays and the first teams have already moved in.

We are becoming the site’s anchor tenant, kick-starting an innovative re-development of this prime area alongside the river Nene which had been derelict for over 40 years.

All our teams will be moved in by the end of August and everyone is excited by the prospect of working in a state-of-the-art building.

Sand Martin House

The Fletton Quays development is the first regeneration project delivered on time and within budget by the Peterborough Investment Partnership (PIP), an innovative partnership between Peterborough City Council and GB Strategic Land Fund.

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Park is flying the flag for the city

At Monday’s council cabinet meeting members took the innovative decision to set up a new
Local Authority Trading Company.

As mentioned in last week’s blog, our plan is for this new company to take control of
important services like waste and recycling, street cleaning, and our parks and open spaces
from February next year.

By bringing these services in house it will give the council far greater control over the
performance and quality of waste services. It will save us money and deliver better services.

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Back to business after the elections

Following last week’s elections I was delighted that the Conservative Party has taken back control of the council.

We have worked extremely hard to earn a majority and now that the dust has settled we will continue to do so.

We are currently mapping out some new policies which are based around the issues that matter most to the people of Peterborough.

I would also like to pay tribute to two of our longest serving councillors who lost their seats in the elections.

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University facilities to be built on the Embankment

The news that teaching and student facilities will be built on the Embankment as part of the new University of Peterborough is another welcome boost for the city.

The £9.5 million project has been agreed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and is set to be ready for the first cohort of students in 2022.

This area of the city centre is being transformed right before our very eyes with Fletton Quays progressing at pace and it’s a tremendously exciting time.

Fletton Quays Development

The Combined Authority have also agreed that a study looking into the viability of a rapid transport system in Peterborough gets under way shortly.

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 here.

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New action to stop voting fraud

It is little over one month until city council elections take place on 3 May and I am pleased to confirm that Peterborough is one of eight areas in England to take part in a Voter Pilot scheme to help combat electoral fraud.

We chose to be part of the initiative as we have a national reputation for our sterling work in deferring electoral fraud at elections in previous years.

Polling Station

The scheme has been launched by the Cabinet Office and will see us bring in tougher measures to strengthen our postal and proxy voter process.

These include officers hand delivering postal voting packs and completing face to face surveys with postal voters to stress the importance of completing the vote themselves.

The proxy vote is being strengthened, with all proxy voters required to produce photographic identification at polling stations, before being issued with a ballot paper to vote on another’s behalf.

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Digital inclusion workshops open to all city residents

Using the internet and accessing services online is now a big part of many people’s everyday lives, but not everyone can use computers and smartphones as confidently as they would like.

You might not know, but many of our services including council tax, business rates, blue badges, parking permits, as well as school and community transport, can now be accessed via our council website. And to make sure as many people as possible can use these we have set up new Digital Inclusion sessions.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Werrington Library to see one of these workshops take place. The free sessions are being held at various community centres and libraries and are open to all city residents.

The digital inclusion officers delivering the training are friendly, knowledgeable and very patient, so everyone can learn at their own pace.

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