Opinion: ‘So much to be proud of in Peterborough’

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

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 2:15 pm
Peterborough Museum.

We have so much to be proud of in Peterborough when you think of some of the great visitor attractions that we boast.

There’s Flag Fen where you can experience life in our prehistoric past and visit the only place in the UK where original Bronze Age remains can be seen in situ; Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, which includes over 200,000 objects of great national and international importance; Nene Valley Railway and Railworld, and we have three theatres which host some fantastic shows each month.

Pre-Covid there were numerous cultural festivals taking place every year and our Embankment is a perfect place for a gathering – anyone who went to the Ibiza Orchestra Live in August or has drunk a pint at the CAMRA beer festival will tell you that.

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But we know that a city of our size can offer more – we have to offer more because a good cultural offering is vital for improving people’s livelihoods and boosting the economy.

So I was delighted to see that Peterborough has been named a Priority Place by Arts Council England, which means they’ll be working with us to attract investment to the city to spend on cultural projects.

I, along with councillor Steve Allen, who is responsible for culture, recently met the Arts Council and have been pushing ourselves forward for investment, so I am pleased they have listened.

This week we have also published our draft cultural strategy, which will be discussed by the Communities Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday. It’s a major piece of work, produced with our partners, which we believe will deliver huge benefits to the city for years to come.

The strategy, which has been co-produced by a number of parties, aims to give all residents the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate culture, and to make Peterborough a popular destination for tourists.

It also recommends the creation of a new Peterborough Cultural Alliance to develop arts and heritage across the city, including through existing events, festivals and buildings.

Other key focuses of the strategy include preparing a City of Culture bid in 2029 and engaging with young people, with the report acknowledging there is an existing ‘cultural deficit’ for under-25s.

We have already made a start on the new Vine in Bridge Street which will incorporate a new library and cultural site, we have been named as a priority investment area and will benefit from the new university, ARU Peterborough. This strategy will make sure we can build on all of these in future years and make Peterborough a cultural hotspot for the area.

You can watch the meeting next week on the council’s YouTube channel and you can read the agenda for the meeting on our website.

On Monday I made a return visit to Photocentric in Oxney Road, one of the leading companies across the world in 3D printing. It’s great that the owners chose Peterborough to start their business some 20 years ago and they have gone from strength to strength ever since, so it was fantastic to see recognition of their work with a visit by Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne.

The Princess Royal spent a good deal of time meeting leading figures and staff from the company, hearing about and seeing the state-of-the-art processes that have made Photocentric a leading enterprise in the engineering sector, and I was delighted to attend.

Managing director Paul Holt and his team will be investing in the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Research and Development Centre that will form part of our new university campus on the Embankment.

The centre will link with local industry, fostering collaboration and innovation in a wide range of materials technologies, including 3D printing research, sustainable plastics and new ways to make batteries.

Thanks to Photocentric and its partnership with ARU, research undertaken in our city will directly contribute to developing the manufacturing technologies of the future. In November, the UK will be hosting COP26 in Glasgow, bringing world leaders together to tackle the climate crisis.

In the run up to the event we are searching for Peterborough’s climate leaders – the community groups, individuals, businesses and others who have found meaningful ways to take positive environmental action.

We know there are many groups and individuals across our city making huge efforts to keep Peterborough a clean and pleasant place in which to live and work. We want to celebrate those selfless people who are going above and beyond to keep our planet sustainable for future generations.

Those chosen as climate leaders will have their contributions celebrated in the hope of inspiring others.

In Peterborough, we have committed to making our activities net zero by 2030 and have produced a carbon management action plan to hit this target.

We are proud of our environmental record, including placing solar panels on rooftops across the city and our network of electric charging points. But there’s always more we can do, which is why we hope COP26 will inspire people to make the small changes which will lead to a greener and cleaner future.

To nominate yourself or someone as a climate leader, email [email protected] explaining why they deserve to be chosen as an ambassador for their local area.