Like many residents, I hold my hands up and admit that I’ve not always led the healthiest lifestyle.
Until six years ago I was a smoker, which had its obvious health implications, and in days gone by eating on the run and taking too many indigestion tablets caused me kidney stones.
The real light bulb moment was 40 years ago when I was advised to give up drinking because my liver was deteriorating.
I know I’m not alone – there are changes that we could all make to improve our health and ultimately extend our lives.
That’s why we will be launching the Healthy Peterborough campaign next week; to give our residents the information they need to make lifestyle changes which will kick health issues such as obesity, mental health and heart problems into touch.
Healthy Peterborough will target a different health problem each month, with March’s theme being heart health.
We are determined to support our residents to be as healthy as possible. In fact, we’ve agreed to maintain the amount of money we spend on improving public health in 2016/17, despite a ten per cent cut in the money the government gives us to do so.
When you consider that we have had to make savings of £24.1 million to balance next year’s budget, the fact we are putting additional money into the public health pot shows exactly how seriously we are taking the health issues that our residents face.
But we can’t do it alone. If we are to make a real dent in the numbers of people dying from heart disease and other health problems, we have to get the commitment of residents.
I know we’re all busy people, but by making simple changes, such as eating less fat and salt, people can lead healthier and happier lives and increase their life expectancy. You don’t have to cut out everything you enjoy – as the phrase says, everything in moderation.
Of course, encouraging a healthy lifestyle must start during childhood and a lot of excellent work is undertaken in our schools to ensure this happens.
Next year we will have a new school to further this work when the Hampton Gardens Secondary School opens in Hampton.
I was at the site this week for the ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of the build.
Hampton Gardens Secondary School will provide places for 1,500 students, mainly drawn from the Hampton and Yaxley areas.
With the catchment area crossing the boundary between the city council and Cambridgeshire County Council, this will be a joint project between the two authorities and the first partnership of its kind.
Finally I wanted to highlight the fantastic work of our trading standards team which resulted in Aidas Gostautas being sentenced to almost three years in prison.
Gostautas, believed to be ‘Britain’s biggest ever puppy smuggler’, was jailed for illegally bringing more than 120 dogs into the UK from his native Lithuania.
Our officers uncovered how he would import sick and falsely described puppies into the country before advertising them for sale for hundreds of pounds on the internet.
The court case caught the attention of the national media and has hopefully gone some way to ward off others from trying the same.