Opinion: ‘Support through winter available for those in need in Peterborough’

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

Saturday, 4th December 2021, 1:45 pm
There is support if you are struggling in winter.

The pandemic has put enormous pressure on so many people over the past 18 months.

I will always be proud of the support that we and so many groups and individuals across the city have offered to help those in need.

Winter can exacerbate people’s problems and that’s why we’re continuing our support for those struggling to pay for food, energy or other essential items with a new fund.

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The council has been given £1,824,636 as part of the Government’s Household Support Fund to help people who need financial support.

More than £1.1 million of the funding is being used to operate a direct voucher scheme for eligible families during school holidays. The remainder is being used to provide a wider scheme for households in need of support this winter.

This funding will be a lifeline to so many, helping families who are finding it difficult to pay their food, heating or water bills and other essential household costs.

If you think you might be eligible, or you know someone who might be, please get in touch.

Find out more on our website at www.peterborough.gov.uk/household-support-fund

We’re also offering the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme again in the school Christmas holidays for the children of families receiving benefits-related free school meals.

The sessions will include a healthy meal, a variety of exciting activities or sports and the opportunity to socialise with other children.

Bookings have already opened and information about how to book with participating providers can be found at fis.peterborough.gov.uk

One of the things I enjoy about being a councillor is being able to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Last week I was honoured to meet Dan Harris and his eight-year-old son Josh, who is autistic and non-verbal. They wanted to improve facilities at their local playpark and got in touch with the council.

We were able to help make this happen by installing a communication board at Long-thorpe village park. The board has several images and symbols which allow children who are non-verbal to communicate how they are feeling and what they want to do.

It was great to meet Dan and Josh and see how happy they are with the board – I hope it makes a positive difference for them and other people in similar circumstances.

This heart-warming story has so far reached over 369,000 people after we published it on our social media channels – great news all round.

Regular readers will know how immensely proud I am of our city’s ongoing redevelopment.

One area we have wanted to revitalise for some time is Northminster and we can now look forward to its transformation after planning permission was granted for 315 apartments along with space for commercial, leisure and hospitality facilities.

We believe the plans will inject new life into Northminster, creating much needed housing, as well as jobs, commercial opportunities and more footfall and spending into the city centre.

As I have said many times, Peterborough’s time really is now, there is so much to look forward to, with our skyline growing before our very eyes.

When you journey along London Road the transformation at Fletton Quays is striking, it’s a million miles from the derelict eyesore it was for decades previously. Work is progressing at full steam there and despite social media reports of the council providing an interest free loan for the development of the hotel, we are in fact making a £500,000 profit on the development.

You may also have seen that the government hub building has been unveiled with the removal of the scaffolding and the fit out of the building underway.

The whole site is really starting to look impressive and I look forward to the new Hilton hotel and rooftop bar and government hub opening next year.

Reports of the new Covid variant, which have led the government to make health and safety changes this week, are concerning.

We will have to wait and see how potent the Omicron strain is, but in the meantime, I would urge everyone to follow the new guidance.

Please book a booster vaccine if you are eligible or get both doses of the vaccine if you have not already done so. Visit www.nhs.uk for more details.

Don’t forget that wearing face coverings is now compulsory in shops and on public transport.

Take extra care when out and about or socialising. Take a rapid test before and after socialising – there is plenty of advice on testing and support if you need to isolate on the council’s website – www.peterborough.gov.uk

It’s scary to think that Christmas is just over three weeks away now, where does the time go?

Our new city centre Christmas lights look spectacular and I have heard so many positive comments about them. Don’t just take my word for it, go and take a look for yourself.

Our Christmas tree has now settled in Cathedral Square and Santa’s little helpers have certainly made it look better than when it first arrived. However, it’s not of the quality we would expect and we are in discussion with the supplier regarding compensation.

As an environmentally conscious city we don’t want to replace it, which would involve having to destroy it prematurely and transport a new one in.

And finally, if you get chance have a look at the latest Ask the Leader session, which took place this week, on the council’s YouTube channel. It was a really good session where I took questions from residents about swimming facilities, funding for cycleway improvements, billboard adverting on roadsides and other subjects.

The next Ask the Leader is January 25, but if you have a question send it to me at [email protected]