‘Robust plan’ for new University of Peterborough

Cllr John Holdich and city council education cabinet member Cllr Lynne Ayres at the site for the new campus.
Cllr John Holdich and city council education cabinet member Cllr Lynne Ayres at the site for the new campus.
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One of my greatest ambitions as leader of the council, and a grandfather for that matter, is to see a dedicated university for Peterborough, writes Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.

Every year hundreds of young people leave our city to study university degrees in other parts of the country, often not returning when they graduate.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, UCP and the city council have made great strides forward in the past few years to stop that drain of talent, and give our young people the chance to study in their home city, by progressing plans for a dedicated university for 2,000 students by 2022.

We have funding approved by the combined authority, land set aside on the Embankment and a detailed plan and timetable that we are working towards. What we are planning will be unlike anything else on offer across the country and rooted in the needs of the local economy, supplying the skills demanded by local employers, and helping our young people into well-paid, secure jobs.

At the end of last year the combined authority commissioned three independent reviews to determine whether our plans are achievable, and targets are being met.

These reviews have allowed us to reflect upon the progress made so far, changes that have occurred in the university marketplace, the challenges ahead, and the best way forward to deliver a university.

I am pleased to say that the reviews concluded there is a robust plan in place to deliver a Peterborough University on time, and that the curriculum will meet the needs of both students and employers.

We always believed this to be the case, but I am delighted this has been confirmed independently.

It’s also recommended that the city council and combined authority review which academic provider they are partnered with to deliver the university.

It is vitally important that we are partnered with the best, most progressive and innovative academic partner to ensure we have a university that opens on time and thrives.

Next week I will chair a meeting of the combined authority’s skills committee and discuss the findings of the reviews.

The committee will be asked to recommend to the combined authority board that a selection process is run to determine the best educational partner and that £535,000 is released to progress the project, namely the assessments of the site and progressing planning permission, producing a business case for the building of the new university and securing a contractor to build the university.

Establishing a university is the single biggest thing we can do to stop our talented young people from leaving to build their lives elsewhere, and ensures that our businesses have a good crop of people with the skills and talent they need to apply for jobs. It would result in significant economic benefits for the whole city.

I am confident that the partner we choose will deliver the university that Peterborough needs, and that the people of the city deserve.

If like me you love Mediterranean food, then you’ll be delighted to hear that the Peterborough Italian festival is returning to the city this summer.

The hugely popular event is traditionally held in September - but this year’s festival will take place on 6 and 7 July.

It will be the 11th year the festival has been held in Cathedral Square, and this year’s event will feature a special guest appearance from one of the UK’s best-loved chefs, Gennaro Contaldo.

We’re always proud to host the festival as Peterborough has such a rich Italian heritage, and it always draws big crowds to the heart of the city.

I’d like to give a big pat on the back to Peterborough Lions Club for raising money to buy a defibrillator for the city centre.

The life saving equipment was unveiled outside the Town Hall in Bridge Street last week by members of the Lions group and Peterborough Mayor Chris Ash.

The device can help to save the life of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest by emitting a high energy electric shock. You don’t need to be trained to use a defibrillator - anyone can use it as there are instructions included inside the device.

It is vitally important that we have equipment like this readily available in the city centre so I would like to thank Peterborough Lions Club for its donation.