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…)

We must all work together for our city

I’ve been called many things in my time – it goes with the territory of being a politician – but I’ve never been called a whiner.

It was one of the many accusations and simplistic sound bites made by MP Stewart Jackson in his Westminster Life column last week.

If understanding the issues that we face as a city, coming up with solutions and getting on and dealing with those issues is whining, then yes, I’m guilty.

Take our approach to regenerate Fletton Quaysa site that was underutilised for decades. We created Peterborough Investment Partnership, the joint venture between the council and Lucent, which has kick started regeneration of this key city centre site.


Simple steps to a healthy Peterborough

Every week I read stories in the media about what I should or shouldn’t be doing to improve my health or increase my life expectancy.

One week it’s beneficial to have a glass of wine a day, the next it’s not. Having too much sleep can kill you, but so can not enough – how do you strike the right balance!

If you’re like me you probably find it confusing and contradicting. Our Healthy Peterborough campaign is trying to offer residents some clarity by providing medically proven information and advice on how to kick poor health into touch, by making simple lifestyle changes. Each month the campaign targets a different health issue and in July the focus has turned to our youngest residents.

Improving the health of our children is so important as I believe that those who are healthy and physically active perform better at school because they are happier and more confident.

We have invested heavily in our schools in the past few years so that all our children, regardless of where they live in the city, receive the best possible education and the best start in life. I’m proud that currently more than 85 per cent of our schools are judged good or better by Ofsted.

That’s all very well, but it’s just as important that we concentrate on improving the health of our children so that they are best able to succeed at school.

Exercise and healthy eating both help children maintain a healthy weight which reduces their risk of poor health. A healthy weight can also increase self-confidence and improve concentration, which helps them to learn and go on to achieve great things. (more…)

We are working on a skills strategy

When it comes to jobs and career opportunities, Peterborough is a great place to live. Around 100,000 people in the city are working full-time, unemployment is falling and the number of residents claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance is at its lowest level since 1992.

As the city grows, so too will the number of companies and the people they employ. That’s great news, but it’s very important not to be complacent.

The employment market is ever-changing, and to really benefit from jobs growth in the future we need to make sure local residents, especially our young people, have the right skills.

Recent research shows that by 2022 there will be a strong demand for people in professional roles and at manager and director level, and fewer roles for administrators, tradespeople and manual workers. The demand for degrees is likely to increase by almost 30 per cent, while those with a doctorate or masters could see demand for their knowledge grow by up to 74 per cent.

Meanwhile, those with no qualifications or low GCSE grades will find it increasingly challenging to find jobs.

That’s why we are working on a Skills Strategy to make sure that people in Peterborough have the right skills to be sought-after employees in the future.

We’re focusing on the core business sectors that make Peterborough their home, like engineering, food and drink, digital and creative, energy and environment, financial services and healthcare. The new Skills Strategy will be discussed at scrutiny next week.

We’ll be working with local employers to make sure they deliver training and apprenticeships, as well as with schools and colleges so that young people leave with the right skills to find and keep a great job locally.

Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC) will play a vital role in this when it opens in September, through its focus on specialist engineering skills.