Conservative Party opinion: Wayne Fitzgerald writes about his delight at being made Peterborough City Council leader

I was delighted to be confirmed as leader of the authority for the coming year earlier this week.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 27th May 2022, 12:25 pm

After weeks of uncertainty, I’m pleased that we can now get on with the important job of getting this council to financial stability and ensuring investment, growth and prosperity continues in our city, writes councillor Wayne Fitzgerald.

I would like to thank the members who have shown faith in me to lead the council. To all other councillors, my desire to work constructively with you for the benefit of this council and our great city remains unchanged.

Our greatest challenge is reaching financial stability, so we must all put party politics aside and work constructively in a way that gives government confidence in our ability.

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Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald says he is paying thanks to councillors who showed faith in his leadership (image: David Lowndes)

We have made good progress by realising over 50% of the £27m savings that we need to make this financial year, and if we remain on track, I am positive we will achieve the full amount by year end.

Moving forwards, I have now announced our cabinet members for the year ahead and you can find out more at www.peterborough.gov.uk/news/cabinet-members-confirmed

I would also like to express my gratitude to Councillor Irene Walsh who retired from the council this month. Irene has worked tirelessly, fulfilling several different cabinet roles, for which she deserves our thanks.

Whilst we face many challenges, there are also exciting times ahead, with the new university opening its doors in September, which, along with the new government offices at Fletton Quays, will create even more jobs in the city.

As stated, I want to work effectively with all political parties in the council. We may not always agree, but it is vital that we work together to give government confidence in our abilities and to improve Peterborough for the good of everyone.

At the annual council meeting on Tuesday, we announced the appointment of Councillor Alan Dowson as Mayor for the year ahead, taking over from Councillor Stephen Lane.

It was also confirmed that Councillor Shabina Qayyum will be Mayoress, with Councillor Nick Sandford serving as Deputy Mayor, supported by former councillor Bella Saltmarsh.

I would like to wish the new Mayoral team all the very best. Cllr Dowson will be working to support those in need and I’m sure he will make an excellent job of this.

I would also like to thank Stephen Lane for his efforts over the past year which has seen him raise significant funds for The Light Project, Family Voice and Supporting Peterborough Veterans.

I know Stephen would want me to acknowledge those who helped him and I would give particular mention to his wife, Margaret, who has supported him superbly, with enthusiasm and a lot of hard work. Also Mohammed Jamil and Sughra Jamil who, together, have been an incredible Deputy Mayor and Mayoress.

The rise in energy bills is something that many people are concerned about, but I want to reassure you that there is support available. The Warmer Homes programme will provide improvements to the homes of people who live in properties which are served by gas and have the lowest energy efficiency. People that meet the criteria can have energy efficiency measures installed including wall, loft and underfloor insulation and solar PV panels.

As part of the Government’s Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) scheme, funding is available for households who are not on mains gas and rely on oil central heating, electric panel or inefficient storage heating, gas fires/room heaters, LPG or have no permanent heating. Grants of up to £25,000 will be available for those who are eligible.

You can find out more at www.peterborough.gov.uk/news/householders-with-the-poorest-energy-efficiency-rated-properties-supported-to-cut-energy-costs

Finally, when I became council leader last year, I wanted to make the authority more transparent and engage more with those who have elected us. To this end I will continue to run the Ask the Leader online sessions, where members of the public can ask questions of myself and my cabinet.

The next session is due to take place on Tuesday, July 5 July. Submit your question to [email protected]