Devolution: We’re still fact-finding

John Holdich
John Holdich
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Peterborough City Council leader cllr John Holdich’s weekly column:

Much has been reported about your council’s potential to join other local authorities within a ‘super council’ and devolution of powers from central government. We are very much at the initial fact-finding stage of this process and nothing has yet been agreed or committed-to. The initial offer ‘package’ from government includes stage payments of a total of £175 million for affordable homes provision, of which 15% would be much-needed socially rented. Also promised is a pot of money which could be used to build a city university and also a pledge from Government to help create a city university, investment in further city centre regeneration and significant skills and apprenticeships, funding for improved employment opportunities which would benefit many Peterborough residents of all ages.

Our responsibilities as a unitary authority (the city council) would remain broadly the same but we would be in a much better position to pursue our desire to create an Enterprise Zone in our city, with the further benefits this would allow our local economy. We would also be required to participate in the election of a ‘mayor’ to lead any newly-created regional body but this would be very much a strategic regional role rather than our current elected mayoral process and function.

Because I want this whole process to be open, transparent and understood by all elected members, our mayor, Councillor Peach, has called a special meeting of council to discuss the details of this proposal and the government’s offer. My personal view is one where I hope the cross-party council members let the offer come out to public consultation so when we have to make a decision in June we have the benefit of your views, after a full 
and proper public consultation.

I walked along Cowgate this week to take a look at the new restaurant TAMU and noticed how delightful it’s looking now that the renovations have taken place. For too long this had been a neglected street and I am very pleased for visitors and shop keepers it’s been upgraded properly as befits its status as one of the gateways into our city centre.

So what else is happening in our city centre. Peacocks opens in Bridge Street on April 21, Kaspa’s Diner is also to open shortly on Bridge Street, Yours have opened a new shop on Bridge Street, Cote is spending a million pounds opening a new restaurant in Cathedral Square, Bimble Inn micro pub is opening in Westgate, The StoneWorks is another micro pub opening on Church Street, plus Wagamama opening in Long Causeway. Sorry no news on Marks and Spencer’s old shop.

More good news about Fletton Quays. We have managed to purchase the old mill from Milton Estates and we are hoping to turn it into culture and arts venue for residents and visitors. Funding proposals are currently being worked on and I’ll have more news when I’m able to share it.

Just a thought regarding anyone attending an outside event with a bouncy castle there. Please do be so careful in windy or gusty conditions. They are great fun, we all know that, but recent sad events have reinforced that even the most innocuous activities can be hazardous in the wrong conditions.

Some tickets are still available to the not to be missed event of the year; An Evening with Charles Swift talking on his 60-plus year as a councillor. It is to be held at the Salvation Army Citadel on April 15 at 7pm.