How Peterborough is working together to improve lives

Staff, volunteers and 'guests' outside the Garden House in the Cathedral Precincts, which receives donations from the Safer Off The Streets partnership
Staff, volunteers and 'guests' outside the Garden House in the Cathedral Precincts, which receives donations from the Safer Off The Streets partnership
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As leader of the council I recognise the power this local authority has to impact on the day to day lives of residents, writes leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr John Holdich.

I also understand how much greater our power can be when we work together to address those problems that we cannot tackle alone.

Across the UK the number of homeless households is on the rise and Peterborough is no different.

But what is different about our city is our approach in addressing this national trend.

By working together, we can achieve far more than by going it alone. Examples I’ve mentioned in this column before include our Safer Off the Streets partnership and our Needless Needles campaign.

Peterborough is well suited to partnership working. We are a relatively small city, with a well-knit network of communities, organisations and businesses who share the same goal - helping our city to succeed.

The strength of our partnership working is one of many reasons the council secured a £325,000 homelessness grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last month.

While the council is leasing, buying and building more homes across the city - including the latest Medesham Homes development at Belle Vue in Stanground - more action is needed to tackle homelessness.

Cross Keys Homes is working with us to address the lack of family sized homes on our housing register and this month launched a downsizing initiative for tenants. This is to encourage people under occupying large homes to downsize to a smaller, more suitable property, with our support.

The scheme offers a maximum of £5,000 per household to transfer to a suitable property in the area of their choice, providing a mix of practical and financial help, supporting tenants with the cost of moving, including cleaning their old home and purchasing new carpets or flooring for their new home.

This will provided much needed accommodation for the 975 households on the council’s housing register with a 3, 4 or 5 bedroom need.

Welcome news came nationally this week from the Government, which looks set to revoke section 21 notices to protect tenants from being evicted at short notice without good reason.

As more and more of us now rent, rather than buy, this can only be a good thing for the long- term stability of households.

In Peterborough, tenants have even more protection, thanks to our selective licensing scheme which gives tenants greater protection from unruly landlords and poor living conditions.

We have some fantastic visitor attractions in our city which attract people from far and wide.

One of these is Railworld Wildlife Haven which has been voted one of the top 10 places to go in Peterborough on TripAdvisor. It shows what can be accomplished by a group of very dedicated volunteers!

I recently took one of the founders of the attraction, Brian Pearce, on a tour of the new council buildings at Fletton Quays, just across the road from Railworld.

Brian told me a fantastic story about the day he received his MBE for community and environmental work last summer from Prince William. He took great delight in telling him that he met his mother, Princes Diana, in Peterborough Town Hall in 1991 when the city council launched a Euro Tunnel exhibition.

If you’ve never been to Railworld Wildlife Haven it’s a great place to visit. It goes without saying that it’s great for train enthusiasts, but the wildlife gardens, ponds, waterfalls and habitat creation are a delight for all, especially children.

Brian and the team are now trying to raise £4million to build a World Facts Centre to highlight all the environmental and climate challenges of the future. Brian told me that in conversation with Prince William he had offered to officially open it with his father, so let’s help make it happen!

I’m pleased to see that The Broadway Theatre has new people in charge. It’s had a tough few years but I hope the operators of the newly named New Theatre are the ones to see it prosper.

I remember going to watch films there as a child when it was the Odeon and I’ve been many times over the years with my family to watch pantomimes and musical shows.

Details have been released about a number of shows taking place from September, so please have a look and see if there is anything you fancy. The theatre can only succeed if people support it.

You can find out more and sign up to the mailing list at www.newthreatre-peterborough.com.