Opinion: Making the city centre attractive and inviting

Peterborough city centrePeterborough city centre
Peterborough city centre
With our new market along Bridge Street and a whole host of attractions planned for the festive season it’s an exciting time for our city centre, writes city council leader Wayne Fitzgerald.

So it’s important that we continue in our efforts to make it attractive and inviting so that as many people as possible choose to visit our fantastic city.

Along with Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, I recently sat down for a coffee with Superintendent Neil Billany, area commander for Peterborough, to discuss anti-social behaviour issues in the city centre.

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The police have already increased their presence and Superintendent Billany reaffirmed his commitment to working with the council to tackle the issues.

Just a few weeks ago our new city centre team started its patrols as part of a six-month crackdown on street drinking and other forms of anti-social behaviour.

The officers are patrolling the city centre working in conjunction with our prevention and enforcement officers and the police to deter those acting anti-socially. They're trained to work with individuals, first using verbal persuasion to encourage them to stop, and they also have the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices and/or build up a dossier of evidence so the city council can work with its partners - such as the police - to pursue further legal action.

The trial will help us to see if the placement of dedicated city centre officers has a positive impact on the look and feel of the area. So far it’s going well and anecdotal evidence is showing that levels of anti-social behaviour are declining. If that continues, then we will consider making it a permanent addition.

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Despite mixed reactions – some negative but mostly positive - our budget simulator (which is not a game!) is giving members of the public the chance to take on the challenge that we face every year to balance our books.

So far 100 people have completed the challenge – that's already much higher than the response we usually get to our budget consultation.

Looking at the responses so far, people are telling us that keeping our streets clean and safe and investment in education and children’s services is important to them. Do you agree? Take part in the challenge and let us know!

Remember, this is not meant as an exercise to solve our budget issues – that's something I and my colleagues will do – but if it informs us as to what people think is important then that is valuable information that we can use.

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Visit www.peterborough.gov.uk to complete the budget simulator or you can access it via our social media pages.

I was pleased to see that our friends at Railworld Wildlife Haven have been able to make use of a bus shelter that was no longer needed by the city council.

Volunteers at the popular tourist attraction (voted number one on Trip Advisor I’d like to add!) have given up hours of their time and worked tirelessly to breathe new life into the shelter, transforming it into the centre piece of a recreated Victorian railway halt.

Over the years the council has gifted numerous redundant materials, including old paving slabs which have created a model garden railway for visitors to enjoy and granite kerbstones which were converted to edge a new footpath that volunteers built across the charity’s car park.

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This is a brilliant use of materials which otherwise would have gone to landfill.

Railworld is a fantastic local attraction which we are lucky to have in the city so take time to pay it a visit.

Changes to bus routes in the city have been making the headlines in recent weeks but it caused a particular headache for the council as some of the buses that were removed were used by children to get to school.

I’m pleased to say that all school bus routes withdrawn by Stagecoach have been retendered in time for students returning after the half term holiday, thanks to our education transport officers working closely with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

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I am extremely impressed by the hard work of officers in turning round what was an extremely challenging situation into a satisfactory outcome for our children and young people.

And finally, the next Ask the Leader session takes place on Tuesday 22 November.

For those who don’t know, it’s a monthly online session where you can ask me a question about something related to the council. We record the session and then publish it afterwards for others to watch.

I’d like to see more residents joining the sessions, so if you have a question please email [email protected]