Opinion: ‘We could all make a green pledge’

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

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 10th October 2021, 1:45 pm
Recycling in Peterborough.
Recycling in Peterborough.

Protecting the environment and limiting the effects of climate change are key priorities for the council and something I’m particularly passionate about.

I focused my speech at this week’s Conservative Party conference on the subject, highlighting the good work we are doing here in Peterborough and the progress we are making towards our net zero carbon target by 2030.

It was great to share a platform with others who are passionate about improving air quality for all and hear how they are going about tackling the same issues we are.

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We are proud of our city’s environmental record and the work we are doing to improve air quality.

We have placed solar panels on hundreds of rooftops and have had a high take-up of electric vehicles.

We have also introduced an e-bike hire scheme in partnership with Voi and since January riders have replaced 3,000 short car journeys, cycling more than 30,000km and saving nearly two tonnes of CO2.

However, we need everybody’s help to make a real difference and there’s something you can do right away.

In the run up to COP26 at the end of October, we’re asking residents to make a green pledge – it might be using less heating or turning the thermostat down by a couple of degrees, using public transport more often or investing in an electric/hybrid car.

Did you know that by turning your heating down by 1C it can reduce bills by £60 and save 310kg of carbon emissions a year? Imagine if a whole city did that!

You can get involved by posting your pledge on social media with the hashtags #COP26 #TogetherForOurPlanet. Please email them to us at [email protected] so that we can share them with our staff too.

Our next Ask the Leader online session, which gives residents a chance to put any questions to myself, will be dedicated to climate change. It takes place on Tuesday, October 26, and you can get involved by submitting questions to [email protected]

I also caught up with the prime minister at the Conservative conference, who spoke about his commitment to getting the economy moving and increasing growth in areas of the country such as Peterborough.

Regular readers will be well aware of much exciting development across the city, with Fletton Quays changing our skyline, the new university in progress and Northminster in the pipeline, to name just a few examples.

We are also launching a consultation on the future of the Embankment, asking people how they currently use it and what they would like to see there. Please take the time to complete this if you can – the survey will help to shape a masterplan for this important local site.

Covid cases in Peterborough have risen recently, which is largely due to the return of schools. A quarter of recorded cases for the week ending September 22 were in the 10 to 14 age group, whilst a further 9.6% were among those aged 15 to 19.

Rest assured that we have prepared for this scenario, with schools working hard to balance safety with the need to ensure that children receive the education they deserve.

We are also reminding parents of the role they need to play in helping to reduce the spread of the virus and ensuring classes and schools can remain open.

So please remember to wash hands regularly, meet those you don’t live with in well-ventilated places and wear face coverings when you encounter lots of people in enclosed spaces.

We would also advise any parents with children over the age of 12 to complete lateral flow tests and encourage them to take the vaccine when it is offered in their school.

Don’t forget that support is available for people who need it whilst self-isolating, including payments for those who will lose income and struggle financially. For more information see www.peterborough.gov.uk/self

The national shortage of drivers has impacted our everyday lives of late.

Here in Peterborough, we always aim to fully understand the challenges we face and engage with residents so we can provide the best possible services.

With that in mind, myself and six other councillors have received training from the council’s waste contractor, Aragon Direct Services, enabling us to join crews on their rounds.

They are working tirelessly to maintain the city’s recycling, refuse and food waste services, and I was honoured to go out with a crew in Thorney last week. It was a fantastic experience with a great bunch of people who are a credit to the city council and Aragon.

So, I would like to say a big thanks to crew members Sarah Stimpson, Sophie Hannah, Ian Morris and Jack Hensby.

I was proud to do my part to better understand the difficulties they face and answer any questions from residents. I want to assure people that we are working hard with Aragon to keep refuse and recycling services operating smoothly.

We are working to recruit extra staff and Aragon currently has vacancies for drivers and loaders.

It’s a great career – you may not think it’s glamorous but it keeps you fit and keeps the city clean and tidy. You are also essentially a key worker, just like nurses and police officers etc.

For more information on vacancies at Aragon visit https://www.aragondirect.co.uk/about-us/jobs/