Focusing on delivering important services in Peterborough
Last week’s local elections saw the Conservative Party remain as the largest overall party on the council, writes leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr John Holdich.
I would like to say a big thank you to those who voted and everybody involved in the organisation of the elections, as they face a daunting time ahead with two more elections.
Our focus now turns to the year ahead and delivering the services that residents told us were important to them when we were knocking on doors in the run up to the elections.
Top of our agenda will be those residents who need our help the most - so keeping children and young people safe and allowing them to reach their potential and supporting adults and older people who need our help to remain living independent and happy lives.
We will continue to work closely with our schools to support them to attract good quality teachers and raise attainment levels.
Plans for a university continue to progress and within a year I would expect to see planning permission in place for the university campus building on the embankment.
People who are in housing difficulty remain our priority and we will be working with them to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place and where this is not possible, supporting them to find suitable accommodation.
We will also continue to support new house building projects so that we have a good supply of housing of all tenures coming forward to meet the needs of our growing city.
I know that the cleanliness of the city is a priority for our residents and that’s why we launched our own trading company to provide waste collection, street cleansing and other services.
Doing so has given us more control over the way these services are provided.
We will continue to invest in our roads and cycleways, particularly in areas of the city where we are experiencing high levels of growth, so that people can continue to travel around our city with ease.
I also want us to work more closely with our residents so that they can help us to improve our communities. We are seeing good examples of this across the city, such as the Good Neighbours Scheme in Castor which supports the elderly.
I believe we can help encourage many more initiatives like this, therefore putting our communities at the heart of everything we do.
There is much work to be done over the next 12 months to ensure we can continue providing the services that our residents need, against a backdrop of ever decreasing government funding and the need to make millions of pounds of savings.
As the largest party on the council, with support from our fellow opposition members, I believe that we can meet the challenge.
This week we announced the names of the first projects to receive funding to benefit our communities.
Last year Peterborough was confirmed as one of five Integrated Community areas and off the back of this set up the Communities Fund and invited local organisations to bid for £300,000 worth of funds.
The first round of winning bids has been selected by the Peterborough Together Partnership Board, which looked for applications that help create strong communities.
The winners were Disability Peterborough; Basketball Club Vytis; Langdyke Countryside Trust; Olive Branch Community Garden and Bainton and Ashton Parish Council.
So far, £50,038 out of the total £300,000 has been allocated, meaning there is still almost £250,000 up for grabs and we would like to hear from interested bidders.
Visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/communities-fund to download an application form.
I have previously spoken about our on-going need to find additional school places as the city’s population continues to grow. On this front, we saw some welcome news this week, with a topping out ceremony to mark the completion of a new roof as part of an on-going expansion of Jack Hunt School.
This work is seeing 11 new classrooms, a science classroom, an all-weather sports pitch and new dining hall and kitchen constructed.
The facilities will be ready for the new school year in September and will enable the school’s capacity to increase from 1,800 to 1,950 pupils.
As the fifth fastest growing city in the country, the need to create extra school spaces is an urgent one and our education team is working to address this.
As the city continues to grow the cohesion of our communities becomes even more important as we continue to break down barriers to build a stronger city.