Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich: Well that was quite a week....

Cllr John Holdich ENGEMN00120131211162123
Cllr John Holdich ENGEMN00120131211162123

It’s been quite a week, I’m sure you’ll agree. Last week’s referendum asked the people of this country to make one of the most important and difficult decisions that many of us have ever had to make.

I voted for the country to remain a part of the European Union. My reasons were simple in that I felt leaving would adversely affect our economy and would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Whatever your views, the people have spoken and we now have to get on with it and make the best of what the future may hold.

It is too early to say what the impact will be on our city and our residents, or indeed the country as a whole. I would, however, like to reassure our communities, particularly those who feel uneasy about the future or how they are being viewed by others.

We have a proud history in Peterborough of being a peaceful, vibrant and tolerant city and it is paramount that this remains the case. I am proud of the fact that we have many different nationalities living together and regardless of the vote this will continue.

It is important to stress that at this stage there has simply been a vote by the people - the government has not taken any formal steps as yet to leave the European Union. Through common resolve and respect we can all work together to face a time of significant change.

We will stand strong in the face of those who may use the result as a tool for division or inciting hatred of any type which has no place in our city.

On Monday night councillors overwhelmingly voted to consult on proposals for a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution deal.

I reiterated at the meeting that our deal builds on, and is better than, the original offer from government. I believe it is one of the best devolution deals in the country.

Devolution would mean greater control locally over the decisions that impact on all of our lives. For residents it’s about making Peterborough more prosperous; more and better quality jobs, more housing, upskilling residents, better roads and connectivity.

For businesses it’s about making Peterborough as attractive as possible, through a skilled labour market meeting their needs, better transport routes and more housing for employees.

There was an accusation on Monday night that the proposed deal will lead to our sovereignty being diminished. This is absolutely not the case. Peterborough City Council would keep its sovereignty and continue to deliver services to residents as we do currently.

What it could mean is £270million of new money for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough over the next five years alone; to improve infrastructure and build more houses. Specifically in Peterborough that could mean establishing our own university, support with the regeneration of the city centre and an Enterprise Zone to encourage more new business to the city.

Now we have agreement from members there will be a full public consultation which will allow residents and businesses to tell government what they think. We’ll let you know once this is up and running and when it is, please take the time to have your say.

It’s always great to get a pat on the back and on Friday we did for the £5 million extension to The Phoenix School in Orton Goldhay. The project was highly commended in the Best Inclusive Building category of the LABC East Anglia Building Excellence Awards.

The extension created an additional 54 places at the school for children with 
severe learning difficulties, so that we can now reach out to more young people with disabilities.

It’s even better news as it comes on the back of Ofsted grading the school outstanding for the third time in a row.

Well done also to Thorpe Hall Hospice (pictured) which won the Best Inclusive Building category.