Don’t believe the empty promises

Council leader Cllr John Holdich
Council leader Cllr John Holdich
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W ith just a week to go until the local elections all the candidates will be stepping up their canvassing to try and get you, the residents of our city, to vote for them, writes Peterborough City Council leader cllr John Holdich.

One of the questions we get asked a lot is why should I vote Conservative? It’s an easy question for me to answer - because we are the only party with the knowledge, experience and skills to lead the city council through one of the most testing times for local government in a century.

Not only that, our track record in the past decade speaks for itself. Thanks to your Conservative councillors virtually every school in the city has been rebuilt or refurbished. We’ve created hundreds of additional spaces for children in our schools, so that we can offer the vast majority of pupils a place in their school of choice despite a huge increase in the numbers of children in the city. Last week we offered more than 90 per cent of primary school children a place at their first choice school for September.

What’s more, plans for a dedicated Peterborough University are gathering pace, which will allow us to keep our best and most talented young people instead of losing them to other cities.

We continue to bring new companies and jobs to the city and working with the Combined Authority we have advanced plans to up skill our current work force and prepare our young residents for a career.

Thanks to your Conservative councillors, the city centre has been transformed. Cathedral Square, St John’s Square, Bridge Street have looked delightful in the recent hot weather, with people sat outside the many cafes and restaurants that have opened in recent times.

Fletton Quays, the site people said would never be developed, is being rejuvenated with office space, hotel, luxury apartments and visitor attractions.

By the council taking office space at the site in the difficult to develop engine sheds, we’ve kick started the development of the whole site which the council and tax payers are benefitting from financially. We estimate that business rate contributions alone over the next 27 years will generate around £18 million. Additional council tax from the new homes is expected to generate £263,000 per year.

Wider economic benefits include hundreds of additional jobs.

We’ve launched our own trading company, Aragon Direct Services, which gives us greater control over waste services, street cleaning and flytipping. Aragon will also be able to carry out work for external companies, generating money that we can then use to provide services.

Your Conservative councillors are creating a city that people want to visit and spend time in. Our tourism policies are paying off – overnight stays in Peterborough last year went up by 40% and we have been working with Vivacity and the combined authority to bring the 2025 year of culture to Peterborough, we recently invited the officer who organised Hull’ Year of culture to the city to

understand better what needed to be done.

We’ve consistently delivered high levels of new housing, averaging over 900 per year for the past decade – that’s around 9,000 new homes in total since 2008. These are homes that suit everyone.

On the subject of housing, we are supporting more people than ever before who find themselves in housing difficulty. Numbers peaked last year with 2,300 households coming to us for support. In response, your Conservative councillors have made significant investments to increase the supply of both temporary housing and permanent housing with our partners.

Running a city the size of Peterborough, which has huge aspirations for growth, an ever growing population and more people who require care and support, is no easy feat when our funding is reducing year on year.

We’re doing it by operating more like a business, becoming more commercial. Each year we make £72 million through investments, sharing of services, fees and charges and other means. For example, we generate £2.7 million by selling the energy produced by our energy from waste plant and our planning and trading standards teams bring in £4million annually by providing services for other councils. Your Conservative councillors are constantly looking for new ways to generate income so that we can continue providing the services that matter to you, your family and friends.

I could go on, Whichever way you choose to vote, just please make sure that you do. Using your vote in a considered way is one of the most powerful things that you can do to ensure we all achieve a great future for our great city. And don’t believe the empty promises made by wannabe politicians who have no idea of the challenges involved in running a council.