Let me start off by wishing you all a happy new year, writes Peterborough City Council leader Cllr John Holdich.
Early January is a great time for reflection and setting new goals or resolutions for the year ahead.
With that in mind, I thought I’d use this column to look back over the past 12 months.
The past year really has flown by, and I think that’s a sure sign that we’ve got on with business and achieved many of our goals.
One of my proudest moments of 2018 was seeing the opening of the council’s new office building at Fletton Quays. Sand Martin House is a fantastic modern facility, which fully feels like home now to the many staff who moved across there in the late summer and autumn.
Fletton Quays continues to develop at pace, with building work continuing on high quality apartments, a Hilton Garden Inn hotel, leisure and retail offerings. It’s on schedule to be finished in 2020 and once complete will show everyone that Peterborough is ready for business and investment.
On the subject of impressive developments, 2018 also saw the much-awaited plans to transform North Westgate approved. North Westgate and Fletton Quays represent a new age for Peterborough. With the city’s population expected to increase by 35,000 over the next 15 years, we need to build now and build right for the future.
Back in October, thousands of runners and spectators flocked to the city for the Perkins Great Eastern Run. In the autumn, Tim Peake’s spacecraft visited Peterborough Cathedral, which, along with a replica of the moon created with NASA satellite images attracted thousands of visitors.
The year also witnessed the 40th anniversary celebrations of Ferry Meadows, which I think reminded us all how lucky we are to have such a fantastic facility on our doorsteps.
Other successful events included the Diwali, Italian and Polish festivals as well as the classic car show and Christmas lights switch-on.
Each event brought crowds and entertainment to the city centre, but more importantly demonstrated how Peterborough openly celebrates our diversity.
On a related subject, 2018 also saw Peterborough chosen as one of five areas to participate in a government programme aimed at continuing to bring communities together.
We were selected because of positive work to help bring communities together, such as our successful Syrian Refugee resettlement project and the community events that I just mentioned.
The government has awarded us over £1 million and we’ve been working with partners to develop new services under three main themes - economic opportunity, bringing communities together and people.
We also made great strides with helping to end street homelessness, with the launch of our Safer off the Street campaign and a range of other initiatives.
Thanks to the dedicated work of our housing team, we have reduced the number of households in temporary accommodation by 12 per cent and reduced the number of families living outside of the area in Travelodge accommodation down to zero.
Our education team has also made great progress this year and continues to work hard to improve outcomes for all school pupils in the city.
This was reflected in consistent GCSE results, above average A-Level passes, whilst our Key Stage 2 outcomes are steadily rising. These are just a select few highlights from an impressive year and I’m sure 2019 will bring even more achievements.
Before Christmas I paid a visit to the Royal Mail Centre in Werrington to see first-hand the dedicated efforts of our postmen and women.
They mentioned to me about the number of times they have been bitten by dogs while delivering the mail, so to all the animal owners out there please keep your pets restrained at these times.
Finally, I was pleased to see that Parliament has agreed new regulations which will see the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals cut to £2.
The new laws will be implemented in April and I’m sure will have a positive impact.
Gambling addiction is a national issue and anything that can help curb this is welcome news indeed.