Conservative opinion: 'Our great city united in high spirits', writes Wayne Fitzgerald

Peterborough City Council leader gives a Town Hall View in his latest column

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 5:00 am

The past couple of weeks in Peterborough have been a fantastic advert for all that’s great about our wonderful city.

It’s been fantastic to see people coming together and having a brilliant time, first for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and last weekend for two stellar music concerts.

Crowds flocked to the Embankment to see Café Mambo on the Friday night and then for Simply Red the next evening, which I went along to and thoroughly enjoyed.

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Thousands of music fans had a Simply brilliant evening as big name music stars returned to Peterborough's Embankment.

It was great to see so many people making use of our Embankment. Ideally we want a music festival like this to become an annual occurrence, or even more frequent.

However, it was a shame that the Manic Street Preachers’ gig on the Sunday night was cancelled after their lead singer tested positive for Covid.

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Thousands have fun in the sun as Simply Red put on a stunning Peterborough show

This was a stark reminder that the virus is still among us, which has been reinforced by the recent increase in infections locally.

So, with warmer weather here at last, and more people getting out and about, it is well worth remembering that we still need to be careful.

Although there is no longer any requirement to self-isolate, it is still advised if you contract any of the Covid symptoms, such as a continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of taste or smell.

If you haven’t already done so, getting the Covid vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Vaccines are still available in Peterborough, visit www.nhs/uk to find out more.

When I became leader of the council, one of my main aims was to make the authority more transparent about what we do.

You may be aware that we already stream many of our meetings on our YouTube channel, which you can find at https://www.youtube.com/user/PboroughCityCouncil.

On Monday our next Cabinet meeting takes place at the Town Hall, which you can also watch on YouTube or come along to.

We’ll be discussing a report that shows the council ended 2021/22 with a £4.5 million underspend.

This is very welcome news indeed, with the underspend bolstering our reserves significantly. It’s a positive first step in line with our Improvement Plan looking to achieve our number one goal of financial sustainability.

I want to pay huge credit to our dedicated staff for delivering significant savings from the point we put a freeze on all but essential spending.

Many of them have come forward with their own suggestions to make savings and we are looking at those.

Our financial challenges are well documented and despite this positive news, we are far from being out of the woods just yet.

We are already seeing evidence of issues we had budgeted for in the last financial year coming through now and the impact of rising inflation will be felt, so we mustn’t weaken our resolve to achieve financial stability and continue to deliver the savings we have identified.

At the same Cabinet meeting, we will also discuss plans to apply for government funding for three exciting projects.

These are creating a pedestrian bridge over the River Nene, a public realm upgrade of Lincoln Road and improving access to Peterborough Station Quarter for pedestrians, cyclists and people with reduced mobility.

We are currently finalising business cases for these developments and expect to submit these to government in July. If approved, these projects will make our city easier to walk and cycle around, and will improve accessibility for people with reduced mobility.

The pedestrian bridge will be an iconic landmark and the Lincoln Road scheme will be a much-needed improvement to the area.

The Station Quarter development will create a more attractive and easier route to the city centre. All projects will enhance our city and complement the other ongoing developments. As I always say, Peterborough’s time is now and there is much to be excited about.

Finally, I’d like to issue a plea to help a charity that’s really making a difference in our city. The charity is Food For Nought, set up by Cocoa Fowler.

It is an innovative charity helping residents stay fed as the cost-of-living rise hits.

To find out more, their website is https://foodfornought.org​​​​​​​