Town Hall View: 2015 - start of something special

Peterborough City Council leader, Marco Cereste in 2013. Photo: Alan Storer/Peterborough Telegraph
Peterborough City Council leader, Marco Cereste in 2013. Photo: Alan Storer/Peterborough Telegraph
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We’re only a couple of weeks into 2015 and it already feels like we’re running at 110% here at the council.

Last week we issued papers for the first cabinet meeting of the year and it looks like we’re set for a bumper edition. Much has already been said about the budget, we have an incredible challenge, but the proposals put forward last week will bridge the remaining £8million gap. We will soon be launching our second Budget Conversation survey and need your feedback to make sure our plans continue to provide for all in the city.

I know some think I talk about the budget too much (a certain NT at the Peterborough Telegraph, for example). It is obviously an important issue, but it isn’t the sole focus of the council’s attention.

Next week we are set to approve two radical new plans that could bring millions of pounds of foreign investment into the city and also some of the cheapest energy bills in the country.

If plans go ahead we will work with OVO, a new entrant into the UK energy market, to create and promote new dual fuel and electricity tariffs, exclusive to Peterborough residents.

We will also introduce prepay tariffs, with residents receiving a free smart meter to help them monitor their usage and save even more money.

As we promote the tariffs in Peterborough on OVO’s behalf they will be able to pass savings onto residents.

Although the early focus of the scheme will be to introduce new tariffs, future projects could also include city-wide smart meters, increased funding for local projects and an agreement for OVO to purchase energy generated by the council. OVO has a track record of delivering similar schemes in different areas and I am sure our partnership in Peterborough will be another success.

We are also set to enter into a strategic partnership with Chinese firm AVIC that could bring millions of pounds of investment into the city.

The deal will see AVIC providing the expertise, infrastructure and funding we need to realise our ambition to become the environment capital of the UK.

Their investment will create new jobs for local people, bring new skills and education opportunities into the city, develop new networks that businesses can use and ultimately, if successful, see new factory facilities created in the city to further expand their UK presence. The company is keen to invest in the city and we are keen to support them.

This is exactly the kind of deal the Prime Minister called for last year and we are proud that Peterborough is setting an example for others to follow.

These two new deals, combined with the rooftop solar scheme announced before Christmas, have the potential to radically improve not only the infrastructure of the city, but also the outlook for local people.

Working with OVO we will put money back into people’s pockets by way of cheaper energy bills. Working with AVIC we will upgrade the technology of the city, saving us money that can be reinvested into local services. Working with social enterprise Empower we will generate our own electricity that benefits residents, the council and communities. These deals haven’t needed us to spend lots of money, or sell off the city’s silver.

They have been struck by sensibly using the city’s resources, encouraging private companies to invest in Peterborough as they recognise it is a city on the up, with bags of potential.

These plans are just in their infancy and there is still a lot of work to do. But I’m really looking forward to keeping you updated on how each of these schemes develops over the months and years to come, so watch this space. I’m sure we’ll one day look back at these agreements as the start of something very special in Peterborough.

- Peterborough City Council leader gives his view on the council and news and issues affecting you...