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…)

Peterborough’s bright future

Let it grow, let it grow – Fletton grows

We are at an important moment in Peterborough’s future development as a city.

Earlier this year, the first stage of the Fletton Quays development was delivered. It will be complete by 2020.

And just last week, a planning application for North Westgate, which will include office accommodation, homes, cafes, restaurants, a hotel and a public square was signed off by planners.

Future peterborough

These two important milestones, represent a new age for Peterborough, as it looks to transform into a larger city and a destination in its own right.

Over the next 15 years, our population will grow from around 200,000 to 235,000. That’s a massive increase of over 17 per cent.

We are literally building the future. The infrastructure and landmarks our children and our children’s children will come to see as iconic to our city’s look and feel. That’s why it’s important we get it right.

LDA Design is a Peterborough based landscape architect company, which specialises in redeveloping urban areas so they work best for the people that use them.

To give you an idea of their credentials, LDA were the brainchild behind the Olympic Park in London and its post-games transformation, the University College of London’s pioneering new campus and have won hundreds of awards for what they do.

Now they have kindly agreed to lend their services to the council free of charge, to create a 20 page development framework – or blueprint – of what our city should look like in 2035.

As a Peterborough based firm with city born and bred owners, they have a vested interest in making this their most exciting and innovative creation yet.

The blueprint welcomes visitors to our city with a large plaza outside the train station, guides them through North Westgate, through the city centre and out to an arena/concert hall by the river.

After watching 2035’s equivalent of Ed Sheeran, you could then either catch a water taxi to Nene Park, pop up to the new university campus further up the Embankment, or grab a gin a tonic at the distillery at the Fletton Quays development and POSH stadium.

It’s a bold design, packed full of retail, leisure and entertainment features. But it’s one which will help secure our future as a larger city destination, boosting tourism and opportunities for local residents.

The design will be on our website from next week for you to look at and comment on.

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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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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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Exciting plans ahead for future

Our annual council meeting took place on Monday night which always feels like the start of a new year for everyone.

We welcomed Councillor Chris Ash as our new Mayor for the year ahead, our party’s Cabinet lineup was announced and I was confirmed as continuing as Leader, which as I always say is an honour and a privilege.

You may be interested to know that there has been a Holdich representative on councils across the region stretching right back to 1868, so as you can see I’m continuing a long and proud family tradition.

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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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PES launched with additional powers to tackle issues across the city

When I became leader of the council 18 months ago my post bag was full of letters and emails from residents about issues such as anti-social behaviour, begging, illegal parking and poor quality housing.

I listened to those residents and looked at what we and fellow agencies could do to better tackle these issues, at a time when funding is scarce and manpower is limited.

This week we fully launched the SaferPeterborough Prevention and Enforcement Service (PES) which brings together council, police, fire service and prison staff into a single managed service. The team has been in place since April, however council staff now have the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme powers issued by Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s chief constable to be able to enforce against a greater number of issues.

The idea is that together we can offer a quicker, more visible response to the issues that you have told us impact on your quality of life. Council prevention and enforcement officers, who you might see walking round in new blue uniforms, now have the ability to take action against a wider range of community issues including littering, dog fouling, begging and cycling on pavements. They also retain existing powers including parking and housing enforcement.
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Proposed £600 million fund to improve transport

Last week I shared with you what I think are the benefits for residents and businesses of our proposed devolution deal with government from the perspective of education and training.

This week I’d like to focus on growth and in particular how devolution could benefit our transport and housing.

Let me start with transport, that’s our roads, train and bus services and how we connect with surrounding towns, rural areas, Cambridge and beyond.

We’re fortunate to be really well situated on the A1M and East Coast Main Line. However, businesses tell us that transport connectivity needs improving so people and freight can move around more freely with better connections to the east and west of our city and between Peterborough and Cambridge. Transport delays for businesses can cost them dearly, as it often means they miss deadlines.

If the proposed devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough goes ahead, we’d have access to a new £600 million fund (£20million annually) to improve transport and infrastructure across the county.

Town Hall

Having access to this kind of money will allow us and other councils in the county to plan road and rail improvements together that will benefit everyone, including people living in the urban and rural areas. In addition, having certainty over the money we will receive in future years will help us plan projects longer term, ensuring we get best value.

We’ll also have more money to spend on improving public transport, in particular to help our rural communities and young people access jobs. Virgin Trains, which runs the East Coast Main Line, is planning to introduce new high speed trains next year which will reduce the journey time from Peterborough to London to under 40 minutes. But we also need better rail links to Norwich, Cambridge and Stansted airport and devolution will put us in a much stronger position to secure that investment in quicker and more frequent services.

If we can also improve journey times by upgrading the roads and having better bus services then it should make Peterborough an even more attractive place to live, whether you work in the city or commute elsewhere, and to invest.

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