Aragon - coming to a street near you

Cllrs Howard Fuller, Mohammed Farooq, Marco Cereste and John Holdich with an Aragon Direct Servicea van in Bridge Street
Cllrs Howard Fuller, Mohammed Farooq, Marco Cereste and John Holdich with an Aragon Direct Servicea van in Bridge Street

This week we unveiled the name of our new trading company which will take over the running of key services from April, including bin collections.

In just over two weeks, you will see refuse lorries emblazoned with the name Aragon Direct Services down your street, writes Peterborough City Council leader cllr John Holdich.

Bin collection schedules and services will remain the same, and will continue to be delivered by the same team of frontline staff - there will be little obvious change other than the name.

The difference will be seen in our ability to commercialise the service, so in effect making money by providing services for businesses and other organisations locally and further afield.

The council has constraints on how much profit it can make from commercial operations - this private limited company will allow us more freedom to trade and generate income to help ease the financial pressure that the council is under.

It will also give better value for money and offer more flexibility to our residents. For example, if we get a wet summer and we need to cut our grass more frequently, this can be arranged more easily than if through an outsourced contract.

Our cleaners transferred over to the new company in February, and on 1 April they will be followed by the refuse collection team and specialist school transport. Street cleaning, grounds and building maintenance services will then follow in May.

Every so often, I remind myself why I’ve spent so much of my life serving people as a councillor. It’s a desire to help people and improve their lives.

Cabinet members recently approved the first draft of a new Corporate Strategy for the council, which sets out how we will do just that, improve lives, in the next few years. The plan includes three priority areas: ensuring people have pride in their communities and environment; first rate futures for children and young people - and quality support for adults and the elderly; and better jobs and quality homes.

We are a well managed council, facing unprecedented challenges, but also new opportunities. Our new strategy sets out the results that we believe are important to local people, and the things we need to do to improve people’s lives.

Over the coming months we want to talk to people about what matters to them, to hear what you think, and make sure that we are focused on the right things. I’ll update you when you can get involved.

If you’re a parliamentary voter for the Peterborough Constituency you should receive a letter by the end of this week informing you of your right to sign a recall petition which launches on Tuesday.

Last week, the council received official notification from the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, that MP Fiona Onasanya is the subject of a recall petition. Residents will have six weeks to sign the petition which closes at 5pm on May 1.

If 10 per cent of those entitled to vote at a Parliamentary election which is 6,967, sign the petition, the MP would lose her seat and a by-election will be triggered.

It’s a costly thing to organise, estimated to be in the region of £500,000, but luckily we are able to claim that back from the government.

Rarely does a week go by without a news story about a high street chain struggling to survive. It’s a sign of the times, with more of us choosing to shop online.

If you’re a regular reader of this column you will know that I am a fan of using the high street, and will often take this route over online when looking for a gift.

So, I was pleased to learn that a new campaign day, High Street Saturday, will take place this weekend.

High Street Saturday is a chance for local people to come together to support their high streets and pledge to shop locally.

You can also share photos and messages online using #HighStreetSaturday.