Opinion: ‘Exciting times in our busy city’

Wayne Fitzgerald, city council leader and Conservative group leader on Peterborough City Council writes...

Sunday, 28th November 2021, 1:45 pm
Paul Holt, managing director of Photocentric, Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Rebecca Stephens , Combined Authroty business board representative, and Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, leader of Peterborough City Council at the launch of the university research hub.

There is so much happening in our city to be excited about and the past week is a great example, with a high-profile visitor, spades in the ground on a big project and our city centre looking wonderfully festive.

A highlight for me was the visit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, to the construction site of the new ARU Peterborough University campus on the Embankment.

The chancellor saw how £20 million of Government investment will transform the former derelict brownfield site, helping boost our economic recovery, creating more than 500 jobs and helping develop the skills needed for the future.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow and I also had time with the chancellor. We pressed upon him our desire for his and the Government’s support to continue the city’s journey to financial prosperity. He received this in a positive way and looks forward to hearing about any further plans, such as the station quarter and further developments on the university.

In further good news, on Monday I attended an event at the university site to mark the start of works on the new manufacturing and materials research and development centre.

The new centre is a joint initiative between triple Queen’s Award-winning Photocentric, based in Oxney Road, and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. Photocentric is investing £Three million in the centre while the Combined Authority has allocated £13.7 million from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

The centre will link with local businesses and help inspire collaboration and innovation in a range of technologies, including 3D printing research and new ways to make batteries.

Then, on Tuesday, I attended the Peterborough Place Summit, which started the first of what I hope will be many events in order to set out our vision for Peterborough for the coming years. Essentially, it’s creating an identity and vision for our city to market itself to visitors and also to ourselves.

It was a great event at Kingsgate Community Church. Although the council led initial discussions, it was agreed that the whole city needs to work together to make it a success and an independent Place Board will be set up to drive forward actions.

If you haven’t already, you must visit the city centre to see our fantastic Christmas lights.

The deputy leader Steve Allen and I attended the switch-on event along with the mayor, councillor Stephen Lane last Friday. I kept a low profile, for a change, but I did manage to get a photo with Bobby Crush, who is starring in Aladdin at the New Theatre!

Kev Lawrence, from PCR FM, officiated on stage with local performers and panto stars from the Cresset, New Theatre and Key Theatre. I would suggest you book tickets for any of these pantos as they all look great fun.

Following the switch-on, I went to the PT Business Awards. Many a worthy winner took to the stage to receive their awards, including Bluebird Care Peterborough, for Best Business Response to the Crisis, which was sponsored by the council and Opportunity Peterborough.

This event always demonstrates what fantastic businesses we have in the city and the achievements they make are quite remarkable.

Last weekend I received some criticism about comments I made on the BBC’s Politics Show East. I have done many interviews with the BBC, but I’m afraid that on this occasion they failed to make clear the points that I was trying to make by only using a small part of my interview, which misrepresented the facts of what I actually said.

I was given the chance to explain more fully on BBC Radio Cambs’ breakfast show on Tuesday, which you can listen to online.

The point I was making is that some families prefer to have less involvement with local authorities when it comes to looking after their loved ones.

That does not mean we expect everyone to care for their loved ones at home whatever the circumstance, but we do want people to play a greater role in looking after their family members if they can, such as doing food shopping, taking them to medical appointments or helping around the home. This is nothing new, it’s part of our Think Communities strategy, which is also woven into our corporate strategy, to ‘help people to do more for themselves, for each other and for their communities’.

The council cares about the people living in this city no matter what their background or circumstances.

We will do all we can to help within our financial limitations.

Thursday marked White Ribbon Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and here in Peterborough.

A special White Ribbon flag-raising ceremony took place outside the Town Hall and an information stall with representatives from Peterborough Womens Aid was on hand to discuss their services.

Domestic abuse is a shocking and often hidden crime. We want any victims out there to know they are not alone and there is support available.