John Holdich: We are tackling the cycling issues

Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street.
Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street.
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Since becoming leader of the council my days, as you would expect, are busier and my inbox is bulging at the seams.

One topic that I’ve had a number of letters about is cycling on Bridge Street. Many people have told me they think that hurtling down a busy pedestrian street on your bike is dangerous. Well I agree with them. Every week residents complain on our twitter feed about inconsiderate cyclists. I’ve heard about a couple of councillors who’ve had a close shave and a PT reporter once told me that he’d almost been taken out by a speeding cyclist.

Peterborough is pro-cycling – this should be obvious! We have 150 miles of cycling routes that take you out into the countryside and back into the centre, we staged the Pearl Izumi Tour Series again this year and we promote cycling at schools across the city. On the new and improved Long Causeway we have increased the number of places to securely leave your bike to encourage people to cycle.

Cycling on Bridge Street just isn’t safe. We have extended the restriction so that cycling is not allowed between 9am and 6pm on any day of the week to protect pedestrians and cyclists. But clearly the ban has to be enforced and because the council doesn’t have the powers to do this we are working with the police to hold multiple days of action against those who break the ban. These days will also 
tackle other offences including spitting, littering and begging in the city centre. We also hope to apply for additional powers so that council officers can tackle all manner of anti-social behaviour in the future.

I would just like to say thank you to all those residents and visitors who do get off their bikes on Bridge Street. It’s only a short walk and I very much appreciate it as I suspect so do the vast majority of residents.

I enjoyed reading the PT’s article on the possibility of Peterborough becoming part of a Lincolnshire ‘super-council’. Just for clarity, this is not going to happen. But we have been speaking with colleagues north of the border about working closer together. This isn’t new though, we have been working with neighbouring local authorities, and some further afield, for a number of years now.

Our highly regarded team of planning officers now help a number of authorities. This generates income for the council and is good for the local taxpayer. For example, our policy team now costs one-sixth of what it used to. And this is what we need to do as a council; start to sell our services to other authorities and generate income for Peterborough. Talks are under way with Fenland District Council to see if we can share a planning team across both councils. If agreed, local politicians will still make the calls in their own patch, but we will share resources and look to build a bigger planning team, whose expertise can then be sold to other authorities or companies.

I’ve been visiting a lot of the city’s schools lately because of the fantastic Ofsted results we have been getting. We have great schools in our city and now 83 per cent of our primary schools have been rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. Well done to the teachers, parents, council officers and of course pupils, that have made this happen!