Opinion: Say hello to your new university

First look at the new ARU Peterborough building at Bishop's RoadFirst look at the new ARU Peterborough building at Bishop's Road
First look at the new ARU Peterborough building at Bishop's Road
You will notice an exclusive set of photographs of our new university in the Peterborough Telegraph this week, writes city council leader Wayne Fitzgerald.

They were the first media outlet to be invited for a behind the scenes first viewing of the building on Tuesday and photographer David Lowndes and reporters Adam Barker and Ben Jones were among the first members of the public to make their way through the entrance doors and explore the building, which stands proudly in Bishop’s Road.

They were joined by ARU Peterborough Principal, Professor Ross Renton, Vice Principals Dr Lucy Jones and Jamie Jones, council Cabinet Member, Councillor Lynne Ayres and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board Member, Al Kingsley.

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The building itself is an impressive structure, delivered on time (despite the pandemic and global shortages of materials) and is now ready to open its doors to students in September. So far, 47-per-cent of those who have applied are from Peterborough postcodes, which is encouraging as a key driver for the build was to upskill our local population and to make university more accessible in the region.

Courses, curriculum, equipment and the building itself have been developed together with local employers and to address key labour shortages in the city and the wider areas, including bio-medical science, midwifery, mobile games design. This will ensure that anyone who attends the university will leave job-ready and skilled in an area that local employers are calling out for.

The building has been constructed with both students and a reduction of carbon footprint in mind. Skylights bring light through its centre, 50 per cent of the building’s foundations contain recycled material and mechanical ventilation will steady the temperature. It’s also exciting that a student will sit on its governing body, having a direct channel to make changes according to students wants/needs.

A family open day will be taking place this weekend on Saturday (20 August) between 10am and 1pm. There will be plenty to do, including tours of the new site, balloon modelling, AI demonstrations, live music and food and drink. Find out more online at https://aru.ac.uk/peterborough/events/say-hello-to-your-new-university

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Young people across Peterborough will receive their A-level results this week. If this is you, I do hope you’ve achieved the grades you needed for whatever you plan to do next.

I don’t know the details of this year’s results or how individual schools have done, because several of our academies have agreed not to publish their results this year.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, results are likely to be slightly lower than in the previous two years, when the exams were graded on teacher assessments during the pandemic, so it would be misleading to compare this year’s results with those from 2020 and 2021. The other reason is that schools are expecting more appeals, so this week’s provisional results are likely to change before the final results are submitted to the Department for Education in November.

If results aren’t quite as expected – don’t worry. There is a lot of help available from various agencies offering advice, so you will not be alone. Look out for our social media campaign with colleagues from Public Health and the Integrated Care System with the hashtag #LifeIsMoreThanAGrade.

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Every young person in Peterborough will have worked exceptionally hard and I am also extremely grateful for all the teachers, support staff and parents who have been there to support, encourage and inspire throughout this very challenging period. A heartfelt thank you to you all.

I was sad to learn this week of the passing of Charles Swift - a friend and former council colleague. Charles was a great community leader and helped so many people in his distinguished 62-year career. He always stood up for what he believed in and was never afraid to speak his mind and share his extensive wealth of knowledge and experience.

Charles will be greatly missed by so many people, not least those members and officers who were lucky enough to serve with him on the council. We all send our condolences to Charles’ family and all those who loved him.

We will now be considering how we can create a lasting memory of Charles in our city and I hope to tell you more about this soon.

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Our licensing team works hard to ensure members of the public are protected from unscrupulous

traders and licensed premises.

Last week our Licensing Committee met and decided to revoke the licence of a city shop owner after a large number of illicit cigarettes were found there.

Hevar Zrari, the owner of Lara (International Drinks), based in Lincoln Road, was visited by HMRC officers earlier this year who found over 4,500 illegal cigarettes hidden at the premises. The cigarettes were non-UK duty paid and did not have the legally required warnings in English.

We take the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco extremely seriously as they pose serious health risks to the public. This is because the ingredients are not regulated properly and in cases where duty hasn’t been paid, legitimate businesses will be out of pocket.

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I hope this case will act as a deterrent to other traders selling counterfeit goods that we will do everything in our power to protect the safety and rights of our residents. For more information and to report an issue visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or call 0808 223 1133.