We all knew that city-based travel firm Thomas Cook was struggling when it shed jobs and closed stores earlier in the year, but I don’t think any of us thought that the 175-year-old travel industry brand was on the brink of collapse, writes leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr John Holdich in his weekly column.
I feel greatly for the staff members and their families at this difficult time, and of course customers too who are either looking to get home or have seen their holiday plans scuppered. This will have an impact as well of course on the wider city and those companies that provided services to Thomas Cook.
We will be doing all that we can to support affected staff members, signposting them to other jobs and places where they can get help and support. There will be a jobs fair at the Town Hall next Wednesday (October 2) organised by our colleagues at Opportunity Peterborough specifically for the Thomas Cook staff. Any companies interested in taking part should email email@example.com or call 01733 317417.
I am confident that many of those people who have lost their jobs will have transferable skills and will be an asset to other companies in our city. They are in a good position to find new employment - our economy is strong, there are jobs available and businesses are continuing to choose to invest in Peterborough.
Each year on average we see in the region of 2,500 new jobs created and there are hundreds of new businesses launching every year. As a result, our unemployment rate is below the national average.
You only have to read this newspaper to see that businesses are moving to Peterborough and want to invest in our city. The Construction Industry Training Board is relocating to the top floor of the council offices at Sand Martin House, creating 200 jobs and extra income for our budget too which we will be using to provide services for residents. There are plans for a new supermarket at the former Toys R Us store and in August, Big Motoring World announced a £5 million move to the city, generating more than 300 jobs.
This week Queensgate released further details about its £60 million extension which will include a 10-screen Empire cinema and new restaurants and shops. Work will begin early next year and once completed will create hundreds of new jobs across the cinema, restaurants and shops.
Not only that, it will be a great asset for our city and its nightlife and will mean more footfall for retailers, more things to do for visitors and retail opportunities for residents. At a time when other city centres are struggling, Peterborough is bucking the trend.
Our local economy is strong and we have lots of new job opportunities appearing each day and even more on the horizon. I hope this gives the former workers of Thomas Cook some comfort as they begin looking for employment in the coming weeks.
On the subject of Thomas Cook, I hear that scammers are already operating and calling people who had holidays booked with the travel operator and offering a refund. If this happens to you, it is a scam, so don’t offer your bank details.
Getting more people to recycle is a big priority for the council and something we are making good progress with.
Earlier this year we opened our new Household Recycling Centre in Fengate which has helped increase our recycling rates. Seventy-five per cent of the total waste deposited there is now recycled - it was 65 per cent at the old site. This means that just over 700 tonnes more recycling has been captured and there have been 822 tonnes less residual waste into the energy from waste facility.
What and how we recycle really matters. Recycling an item rather than throwing it in the general rubbish bin means it will be dealt with in the most environmentally friendly way, keeping materials in use and out of the environment.
This week we are asking residents to make sure they recycle correctly as part of the national Recycling Week campaign - whether you’re an avid recycler or looking to do more, this is a really worthwhile initiative. Look out for social media posts from the council and Aragon Direct Services giving advice on what can go in your green recycling bin, as well as what not to put in your bin.
There are some fantastic achievements being made by school pupils across Peterborough and sometimes these may go unnoticed.
I attended a special event this week to celebrate the work of our youngsters, with the Muslim Council of Peterborough holding its fourth annual awards evening.
The city-wide event celebrated the academic achievements of students who took part in this year’s GCSE exams as well as celebrating the work of primary school pupils and those students who carry out community work.
I would like to say a big congratulations and well done to all of the award winners - keep up your sterling work!