O ver the past year we have seen a 56 per cent rise in the number of families who present themselves to the council as homeless, writes cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.
This mirrors national trends publicised by the homeless charity Shelter that one in every 200 households in the UK does not have a place to call their home, a shocking figure that is difficult to get your head around in this day and age.
This is an absolute priority for us, and regular readers will know that I have made a personal commitment to do everything in my power to help families back into stable long-term accommodation.
Every Monday morning I meet with key officers to find out how the situation has changed in the city on a weekly basis, and what we are doing to address this.
Through our approach of building, buying and working with landlords we are now starting to see the fruits of our efforts, with additional affordable rented homes becoming available across the city.
We now have 43 private properties sublet to us by private landlords and we’ve just finished buying an additional 50 homes across the city, the majority of which now have families living in them.
And more good news is on the way. Last week, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority pledged to spend more than £6 million in the city to build 146 new affordable homes in three sites - next to the Werrington Centre in Staniland Way, in Crowland Road, Eye Green and on Drakes Avenue in Peterborough.
Last week, I joined Councillor Steve Allen, the council’s cabinet member for housing to take a closer look at the Crowland Road, Eye Green site, which is being built by Medesham Homes.
Brickwork has now finished, and the site is ready for decorators, electricians and plumbers teams to swoop in to get the 35 homes habitable and ready to welcome their first residents by Christmas.
Seeing as the planning permission was only approved in February this year, that’s pretty good going!
I’d like to thank all those involved in getting these homes up so quickly, and playing their part in helping get a further 35 families into affordable, decent homes.
As Deputy Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority I’ve campaigned hard for this additional investment. In total, Peterborough has received £9.85 million, and we are halfway towards our target of creating an additional 2,000 affordable homes by 2021.
We remain committed to reaching this figure by any means necessary, working with our housing providers to explore all options.
Following on from last week’s Full Council meeting, in which we declared a climate emergency in Peterborough, I was pleased to see the city has been ranked No.1 for its commitment to renewable electricity in a recent report.
The UK Powerhouse quarterly economic report places the city at No.1 in terms of the number of solar panels placed on homes since 2017 per head of population, with a whopping 12 per cent or 9,100 residents investing in this form of renewable energy.
Last week the council was forced to close the Northminster car park due to a possible risk to public safety - something we take extremely seriously.
If the second report confirms initial views on the car park’s structural condition, we will need to make the difficult decision to either repair or demolish it.
But whatever the news on the car park is, I want to reassure you all that the City Market remains open for business and will continue to trade.
We are working closely with those who run the market and if it becomes too difficult for them to operate from the current location, we will find it a different home and will make sure that any change of location is really well communicated.
There are some great stalls and traders in our City Market and I would encourage you to make a visit, particularly if you haven’t been for a while, and see what you might have been missing.