Opinion: Making progress towards our carbon zero goal
In the past year we’ve signed off a Local Area Energy Plan to set out the bold approach needed to help Peterborough become a net zero city, we’ve supported hundreds of people to reduce their energy consumption and save money through our home grant schemes, and we’ve planted 4,460 trees across the city.
A series of climate debates have been held to involve residents and businesses in the development of plans to decarbonise and there are some exciting developments underway too, including the £15m Government funding to deliver the PIRI project - a low carbon heat and electricity system for businesses and public buildings in the city centre.
We’re also absolutely committed to encouraging sustainable forms of transport. For example, we have secured funding for several walking and cycling infrastructure improvements at locations including Malborne Way, Shrewsbury Avenue and Newark Road.
We’ve introduced ‘School Street’ projects where the roads outside 11 schools are closed at pick-up and drop-off times to encourage walking and cycling and improve safety.
We are also in the process of developing our Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.
However, as I said at last week’s Cabinet meeting, there still has to be a place for cars in our growing city.
On this note, some residents have contacted me in the past week asking whether we intend to introduce the 15-minute cities concept in Peterborough.
For those who have not heard of it, it’s the brainchild of French professor Carlos Moreno, and involves people living in communities where most daily necessities and services are located within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Of course, this would mean fewer cars, and pedestrians and cyclists would be prioritised.
I’d like to make it clear that the council will not be introducing restrictions in connection with 15-minute cities, or any restrictions which seem to limit movement and infringe people’s civil liberties as to how they can go about their daily lives.
We are of course committed to increasing walking and cycling, but in a way that reduces carbon emissions and improves health outcomes.
With the Easter school holidays just a week away, I’m pleased to say that we will once again be providing supermarket vouchers for eligible families. More than 13,500 vouchers will be issued, totalling over £405,000.
Vouchers to the value to £30 will be sent automatically to eligible families using school data and information held by the council.
We’re also urging families to check whether they may be eligible for free school meals during term time, which in turn would make them eligible for supermarket vouchers in the holidays.
Families currently paying for school meals would save around £450 a year for each primary school child if they were entitled to free school meals. Providing free school meals can also add up to £2,000 a year in Government funding to a school’s budget.
In addition, we’re once again running the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme for primary and secondary school children. Any child or young person receiving income-related free school meals is eligible.
All participating holiday schemes will offer a nutritious meal and a variety of fun enriching experiences such as sports, games, cooking and or play opportunities.
Information about both of these initiatives is available on the council’s website.
It’s now just over six weeks until the coronation of King Charles II on Saturday 6 May.
To make it a right royal occasion, our city will be joining the rest of the UK in toasting the new monarch.
There are a number of ways you can celebrate, including The Big Lunch, which encourages communities to come together to celebrate. Our cathedral will be hosting a Coronation Big Lunch in its grounds on 7 May.
There’s also The Big Help Out, which encourages people to volunteer on 8 May and find out more about longer-term volunteering and to celebrate those who make a difference.
You could also a street party – if you are planning to then be aware that road closure applications need to be submitted by 10 April.
Further information on all of these can be found on the council’s website.
The cathedral is also planning to live-stream the coronation service, followed by a Coronation Concert with Gabriella Pineda-Rodrigues, mezzo-soprano, and local choirs in the afternoon.
And finally, don’t forget we’ll be launching Litter Action Week at the Town Hall on Saturday (25th) with a special event from 10am until 2pm.
Anyone who would like to get involved can come along to the event where litter-picking equipment will be provided. Residents can then carry out litter picks throughout the week and all bags collected will be counted by ward, with certificates awarded for the largest haul. The council will arrange collection of all litter.