Opinion: ‘Chancellor is backing Peterborough’s ambition’

Peterborough’s MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 2:15 pm
Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to the construction site of ARU Peterborough.

When it comes to our city, the government is putting money behind its mouth.

I was elected less than two years ago, but as Peterborough’s Conservative MP, I asked and they have delivered.

Three big grants stand out. First, we got £14.6 million from the Getting Building Fund to begin the new university and research super hub.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Then we got £23 million from the Towns Fund for regeneration.

And at the Budget last month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced another £20 million for Peterborough from the Levelling Up Fund. So who better to visit us than the man himself?

It was a pleasure to welcome Rishi Sunak to the Embankment, on the construction site of the new ARU Peterborough university campus. We were delighted to show him how that £57.6 million is making a difference.

Next September, ARU Peterborough will open its doors.

It won’t be long before there are 2,000 students and more than 500 new jobs, as it expands.

The new principal, professor Ross Renton, explained to the chancellor how the state-of-the-art facilities will function in partnership with local businesses.

The research will translate into results. It’s all about getting great ideas into the market, which then generate more local investment and jobs.

It’s also about Peterborough’s cultural offer.

Our £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund underpins phase three of the development. The Living Lab will be the centrepiece of the new university cultural quarter, attracting around 50,000 visitors a year.

Rishi was genuinely impressed. He told us that Peterborough was “doing all the right things” to be at the forefront of the UK’s economic development.

That isn’t an abstract achievement; this will make a real difference to thousands of people’s lives.

The chancellor put his finger on it: “What it comes down to is that if a young person is growing up here, they shouldn’t have to leave to fulfil their aspirations in life.”

In future, more young people will be able to make a success of themselves in Peterborough, with “the most amazing career they want”, or even starting a new company that’s “spun out of the university”.

That’s the vision and, as Rishi said, “with this investment, that’s what we are creating”.

The benefits will be there for everyone.

As I keep saying, Peterborough is a city on the up. We have fantastic manufacturers and businesses, who are already forging ahead. We have logistics hubs and innovative, world-leading 3D printing technology.

Peter Brotherhood is working on modular steam turbines, which place us at the centre of the green industrial revolution and the UK’s future innovation in nuclear energy.

The government is backing that vision too.

The city council is integral to the regeneration that’s helping to draw talent and companies to Peterborough. Once the chancellor had seen the university site, we took him on a walkabout in and around Cathedral Square, where the council leader was able to outline what’s coming next.

Neither of us is finished with our pitch to the government.

Our city has far more to come, not least upgrading the station and kickstarting the station quarter.

For anyone in doubt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer concluded that “there is real momentum now in Peterborough”.

We are the future.