Celebrating the Year of Reading

Reading is one of the most important skills that you can teach a child and will define how well they achieve educationally and throughout their whole lives.

Barbara and I would read to our children every day when they were young until they were old enough to read for themselves. Even then we would encourage them by buying books and taking them to the library, which I do now with my grandchildren.

The other morning on my way into work I listened to a report on the radio about the level of disadvantage experienced by a child at school if they have not been read to from a young age. Many of them will struggle more than children who have experience of reading and may never make up this delay in their learning.

In Peterborough reading levels are lower than the national average. I want that to change, and quickly, so that every child in the city has the same opportunities to share a love of reading. That is why we launched Vision for Reading last year with our partners at the National Literacy Trust, Vivacity and City College Peterborough.

The campaign asks everyone in the city – teachers, parents, businesses and others – to play their part in helping children to develop a lifelong love of reading which in turn will improve their life chances.

Boys reading books

As part of it we’re supporting parents to prepare their children for school by, for example, reading to them at home, we’re training reading buddies in schools who can read with children and we’re celebrating the Year of Reading which launches on 22 June.

Everyone is invited to attend the launch in Cathedral Square between 10am and 4pm where there will be storytelling, free books to take home, activities and more.

The event kicks off a year-long programme of events that will include The Space Chase summer reading challenge, Roald Dahl Day in September, writing competitions and story trails. You can find out more by visiting www.peterboroughcelebrates.org.uk.

The year will culminate with a striking trail of book-shaped benches across Peterborough created by schools, community groups and businesses in association with creative producers Wild in Art.

Whether you’re a parent, business owner, or teacher, please support our campaign to get every child in the city enjoying books from a young age. For our children it will lead to improved life chances and for our businesses it will mean a better qualified workforce of the future.

Raising reading levels will always be harder for us in Peterborough than for many other areas because of the number of different languages spoken in our schools and a higher than usual number of children starting and leaving school mid-year.

But it is a challenge that we must meet and together I believe that we can. (more…)

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…)

Time to switch energy provider?

Over the past week we’ve had two definitive signs that winter is well and truly on its way.

The first was the clocks going back at the weekend and the darker evenings and the second was the mention of frosty mornings on the weather forecast. If you haven’t put the heating on at home yet, now’s the time to adjust the thermostat and beat the winter chill.

And if you’re one of the millions of UK households that haven’t switched energy providers in the past year, I’d like to make a suggestion that could save you a considerable amount of money this winter.

Peterborough Energy Logo

Peterborough Energy (delivered in partnership with energy supplier OVO) is the council’s energy tariff available exclusively for city residents. Over 10 per cent of the city have made the switch over the past two or so years, saving more than £1million between them.

When I switched over three years ago, I saved £300 off my annual fuel bill and continue to make savings each year. Just search for Peterborough Energy online, or arrange a free home visit by calling 01733 642272.

At a time when our budget is plummeting it’s these kind of innovative partnerships which have enabled us to continue delivering great opportunities for our residents, saving them money in the case of Peterborough Energy.


Investment announced for partnership to help local schools

In December I made a commitment to leave no stone unturned in the city’s challenge to raise educational attainment.

It’s for this reason I’m pleased to announce that we are investing £150,000 in a partnership with a city-based not-for-profit organisation, Success for All, who will be working with a number of our schools.

Success for All works with more than 60,000 children in more than 130 schools across the UK which face similar challenges to schools in Peterborough. They do this by transforming the way children learn, encouraging pupils to work more collaboratively and changing the way teachers interact with pupils in the classroom.


Peterborough’s parks rated amongst the best in England

This week we announced that four of our parks and open spaces have been praised as amongst the best in the country.

Central Park on Park Road, Itter Park in Walton, Manor Farm Park in Eye and Victoria Gardens in Millfield have all received Green Flags – a sign that they boast the highest possible standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent facilities.

It’s great news for Central Park in particular, which has now been flying the flag for 14 years. I’m not surprised – it’s home to a wonderful selection of plants and trees, a great play area and paddling pool for the children, the lovely Buttercross tearoom and of course the bowling green and tennis courts. Above all else it is tidy and attractive thanks to our colleagues at Amey who manage the park, and all our open spaces, on our behalf.

Amey works hard to keep our city looking clean and tidy, but there is still a minority who choose to undo its good work and litter, graffiti or dump waste illegally.

That’s why I have made it easier for residents to call and report issues, so that we can investigate and catch the perpetrators.


Welcome to city’s summer of fun

The school summer holidays can seem like endless fun when you’re young, but they can be challenging if you’re the one responsible for keeping the children entertained.

If you’re two weeks in and wondering how you’re going to survive the next month, don’t worry, there’s lots happening in the city.

If you’re looking for something educational, the National Literacy Trust’s pop-up literacy hub on Bridge Street is worth a visit. Children can design posters, help write a Peterborough family cookbook, read a story in the book corner or take part in arts and crafts.

The pop-up shop is a great idea and builds on the excellent work of the National Literacy Trust which has contributed to a marked increase in the number of primary school children that enjoy reading.

Peterborough Literacy Hub on Bridge Street
Peterborough Literacy Hub on Bridge Street

Just across the road at Peterborough Museum they’re celebrating the works of Roald Dahl with a programme of events that includes the chance to explore outer space, make your own chocolate creation or have a go at circus skills.

If you’d like to get the children outdoors then Travelchoice’s summer fiesta could be the answer. Still to come is an outdoor cycle cinema showing of Disney Pixar’s Inside Out at Hampton on Saturday, followed by a carshare cinema screening of the latest Star Wars film at Peterborough Garden Park on 12 August. All the events are free and encourage people to use their cars less and walk, cycle or use other forms of transport that are less harmful to the environment.

The Travelchoice team will also be at PECT’s Green Festival on 13 August offering you the chance to make your own boats out of recycled materials or battle it out in a Rollapaluza cycle sprint.

One of the most exciting events is the Celebration of Youth Day organised by the local branch of the YMCA which is taking place in Cathedral Square on 21 August. There is an enormous amount of talent amongst our young people which I see all the time at events such as the recent children’s film awards. This event is a fantastic way to give our young people the chance to show off their talents and for others to be inspired to develop their skills to achieve great things.

I hope I’ve provided you with some inspiration – I’ve only just scratched the surface. In addition, the Key Theatre will be hosting Key Youth Theatre’s summer musical, you can travel back 3,500 years with a visit to Flag Fen and the Lido is great on a sunny day. Ferry Meadows is a fun day out too.


It’s new year – how about a new you?

It’s the time of year many of us resolve to make a fresh start and change our lives for the better.

If you want to get fit, stop smoking, recycle more, or lend a helping hand in your community then there are lots of facilities, groups and services in Peterborough to help you reach your goal.

Getting fit…

Peterborough’s leisure provider Vivacity is offering no joining fee at its six gyms during January.

The facilities available to use at the gyms – in particular, at the new Vivacity Premier Fitness in Hampton – are superb. These include swimming pools and state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

If you like to set yourself a goal, runners are already lining up to be part of the Perkins Great Eastern Run 2016. A record number of people have pre-registered for the event, which falls on Sunday 9 October, you can register your interest for the half marathon and fun run using the online form.

My wife and I were among the 7,000 people that took part in last year’s event, by completing the 5k Anna’s Hope fun run which takes place alongside the half marathon.