Opinion: ‘Fighting for the future of our city’

Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich gives his view on the council and news and issues affecting you...

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 5:07 am
Construction work has begun

As regular readers will know, we’re fighting for the future of our city so that we come out of lockdown in the best possible place.

Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to decline locally but there is still much work to do in order to get back to normality.

We will continue to fight for our city, but we need your help too by continuing to follow the national safety guidelines for a little while longer.

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This remains vitally important because although virus cases are declining in Peterborough, rates remain high compared to other areas, so we’re actively working with our partners to ensure that residents and businesses are fully aware of how to keep themselves safe.

This week, multi-agency days of action are being carried out in the Millfield area of the city with officers from the council being joined by Cambridgeshire Police, the Peterborough Asylum and Refugee Community (PARCA) and various community organisations.

Across the two days officers will be engaging with members of the public, business and shop owners about keeping safe, whilst also raising awareness of the support available to people struggling as a result of the pandemic.

Our officers’ approach is always to engage with communities first and then decided whether further action is needed.

Peterborough is a proud multicultural city and we’re working to ensure our messages around covid safety are reaching as many people as possible. We are actively working in hotspot areas, with our Covid-19 marshals and community leaders, to ensure key messages are being communicated. We’ve also produced videos in several different languages and broadcast these on our social media channels. Please lookout for these and share them if you can.

But we know there is still more we can do. Another way in which we’re working to reduce covid cases is our rapid testing drive across the city which is making good progress. Since we launched the initiative last month, aimed at testing key workers who cannot work from home, over 29,000 lateral flow tests have been carried out across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.

The benefits of rapid testing are in the name – you get a result quickly, meaning that if you test positive you can self-isolate, helping to control the virus spread.

There are two rapid testing centres in Peterborough – at St Mark’s Church in Lincoln Road and Nene Valley Community Centre in Candy Street, Woodston – with others across our border in Cambridgeshire. If you are eligible for rapid testing, then please get yourself down to one of the centres and get tested, ideally twice a week if possible.

Households with children at school or nursery can also collect tests to complete at home twice a week. For more information about rapid testing visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/rapidtesting

We are also fighting covid by offering support to those self-isolating. People who need to self-isolate, but don’t feel able to for financial reasons, are able to apply for £500 from either the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme or a discretionary payment of the same value, both of which are run by the council.

Since the schemes launched last October, we have awarded 1,296 payments totalling £648,000 which has no doubt helped to reduce the spread of the virus. We’ve also been running a special advice service, which calls people who have been told they need to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, to offer advice over any concerns.

The Peterborough Hub can also support in several ways from financial advice, through to mental health and practical help such as shopping. All this support is playing a key role in our fight against covid as the quicker we can reach people who have tested positive and get them to isolate, the quicker we can break the chain of infection.

For information regarding self-isolation please log onto www.peterborough.gov.uk/selfisolationsupport

Although the past year has been extremely tough for everybody, there is much to look forward to. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I will say that 2022 and the years ahead are set to be a significant time in Peterborough. Construction work has recently started on two new schools – Manor Drive Primary and Secondary on land at Paston Reserve.

The new Hilton Hotel and government hub building at Fletton Quays are due to open in 2022 along with our much-anticipated university. Last week the council agreed a deal to sell Peterborough United’s London Road stadium back to the football club, paving the way for plans for a new stadium, which the club is continuing to work on.

We also have the exciting Towns Fund projects, plans for a new regional pool and the revamp of Northminster is progressing.