The start of a new year often leaves people with feelings of excitement and trepidation of what the year may hold.
That’s certainly how I feel about 2020. There is so much to look forward to in the year ahead for our great city, but like all councils we are still in the midst of one of the most testing financial challenges in our history. This will continue to force difficult decisions about how we provide the services our residents need with the money available.
But I would like to start the year on a positive and when you look around the city there are lots of those.
We have some really exciting developments taking place; there will be announcements about progress on some of these soon and about new developments.
Fletton Quays has been transformed during the past couple of years and there will be further progress in 2020.
Plans for the gin and whiskey distillery and tourist attraction will be submitted in the first part of this year and construction of the Hilton hotel and skybar will begin soon. It has also been confirmed that Fletton Quays will also host a government hub, bringing together 1,000 staff from 2021. I call that a huge vote of confidence in our city!
Across the wider city centre, there will be some exciting news about the potential development of sites in our City Centre Prospectus. This includes the station quarter, university site on the embankment and Northminster car park and the area around it including the market. This unlocks the potential for exciting opportunities such as major multi-use commercial sport/leisure facilities to be developed.
When you consider that the cost of land in Peterborough is a third of the price of land in London, we should be a prime location for businesses moving out of the capital. The costs of doing business are much more competitive here and our Masterplan looks to capitalise on that.
I’m also excited this year to see our university project progress. We expect to submit a planning application for the new building in the spring, around the same time we’ll be announcing our academic partner, and then work on site begins in the autumn.
Major music acts coming to Peterborough in 2020
On a lighter note, we have some fantastic music acts coming to Peterborough. My family and I have tickets to see Westlife in June and Little Mix will be on stage a week or so later. I’ve heard rumours too of a third concert this summer!
And of course I am looking forward to the 2020 Olympic games and the Euro football tournament.
It is true that we have another testing year ahead of us financially, but there is much to look forward to. The time is now for Peterborough and we are ready to take the city to the next level.
Call for fly-tippers to be given harsher penalties
I was pleased to read that the Local Government Association is calling for tougher sentences to deter fly-tippers.
The LGA found that only five per cent of court-imposed fines for fly-tipping offences in England in the past six years were above £1,000 and only a sixth of them above £500.
We’re determined to crack down on fly-tipping and littering and it will remain one of our priorities when our in-house team to tackle environmental issues and crimes takes over from Kingdom at the end of the month. This new team will tackle problems across the whole council area, as well as the city centre.
We want to work with the government on reviewing sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, so offenders are given bigger fines for more serious offences. We know from previous experience that we can influence change – a good example being how our councillors visited the Home Office to ask for more help in moving unlawful encampments on if they are having a detrimental impact on the wider community.
Thanks to our lobbying the government has set up a formal review group to see whether police powers can be strengthened to allow unlawful encampments to be moved on much quicker.
Relocation of Visitor Information Centre
And finally, a reminder that the Visitor Information Centre on Bridge Street has now closed.
Instead, visitors to the city are guided towards the Town Hall and those wanting to access services such as blue badge applications and bus passes will need to walk just a few footsteps to the Customer Contact Centre.
Remember that you can find out more about all the events happening in Peterborough, as well as places to visit and stay, at www.visitpeterborough.com.
A happy new year, I hope 2020 is a healthy and happy year for you all.