New funding will help rough sleepers says Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich

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We received good news this week that our bid for additional funding to help rough sleepers in our city had been successful.

The government grant from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will be for just shy of £240,000.

Cllr John Holdich

Cllr John Holdich

You may remember in my previous columns this month I have spoken about a visit to the Emmaus homeless charity, in Landbeach, near Cambridge. This provides best practice outreach work which helps get people off the streets and into a stable home and meaningful employment.

These much-needed additional funds will help us to recreate something similar - along with our partners - here in Peterborough.

Coming before the winter months will be year-round emergency shelter accommodation for up to 10 rough sleepers, an expansion of the current Severe Weather Emergency provision currently provided by Axiom Housing and an extension of the winter night shelter run by the Light Project from 13 to 20 weeks.

In addition, we will be able to provide much more support to address the issues that led to people sleeping on the streets in the first place. This will include a bespoke programme delivered direct to rough sleepers in shelters, including drug and alcohol addiction support, help getting into permanent housing, training and/or employment and GP services.

Peterborough is no different to other large cities which are experiencing higher levels of those sleeping rough on its streets. It is one of many grants we have been pushing for as a council to help us deliver a wide range of services with an ever decreasing revenue support grant, many of which have been successful.

Successful funding applications and involvement in pilot government schemes (which involve additional grants) will, in my mind, form the new basis for local government finance in the coming years.

Our planning committee last week approved several notable applications which deserve mentioning including the new West Retail Park in Maskew Avenue.

This new development could provide as many as 150 additional jobs in the city and is yet another example of how our city is open for business and is continuing to grow.

Other applications which were also given the go-ahead include a new 100 bed care home at Thorpe Wood, a recreation ground for youngsters at West Town Primary School and go ahead for 5,350 homes, four schools and further facilities at Great Haddon.

Budding directors and actors will get the chance to attend their very own Oscars-style party at the Children’s Film Awards, held at KingsGate Conference Centre on Wednesday evening.

This is a great opportunity for primary school aged children across the city to immerse themselves in the world of Hollywood by creating films on a variety of subjects to showcase to a vast audience. The event is a firm date in my diary each year and a great reminder to me that children are the most creative in our society and that we are lucky to have so much young talent in our city.

Finally, our Peterborough Heritage Festival was a spectacular success last weekend, attracting thousands into the city centre to find out more about the history of our city from its creation to the present day. Thanks to Vivacity for putting on such a spectacular event. This weekend we have the Food and Drink Festival at the East of England Arena, with plenty on offer for food lovers, including celebrity visits from TV chefs James Martin and the Hairy Bikers.