John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council
Peterborough has seen an increase in the number of households that have been accepted as homeless by the council - a situation that sadly is being mirrored in many other towns and cities across the UK.
In 2015 the council was supporting approximately 100 households in temporary accommodation; families we owe a full housing duty to and must provide with a home.
That situation has dramatically changed over the past year and we are currently supporting more than 200 households in temporary accommodation.
The reasons behind it are complex and a mix of national and local pressures, but it is our responsibility to manage it and support those that we have a duty to.
With limited resources available to us we are faced with some very tough decisions when we determine how we accommodate those in need.
This was very much the case with the agreement to house homeless families at the properties on St Michael’s Gate, and we are also having to call on hotels and bed & breakfasts to ensure those people and families made homeless have a bed to sleep in.
Progress, though, is being made to tackle this issue, and the city council is proposing to lease 53 properties in Elizabeth Court in Park ward to provide additional temporary accommodation for homeless households.
Elizabeth Court was purchased by Cross Keys Homes last year and is currently empty with previous residents all happily rehoused elsewhere.
Our proposal is to lease the properties from Cross Keys for the next five years.
By using accommodation at Elizabeth Court, rather than hotels, for the equivalent number of homeless households, it’s estimated the council would save close to £800,000 per year. A re-fit of the properties would take place and we expect that all properties will be occupied by the summer.
Alongside other measures we have had to take, this proposal will ensure we have more properties to support Peterborough households in need and reduce the housing cost to the city.
We must ensure we have the right facilities in Peterborough to support our community.
For many, these facilities can be vital to help them live the life they want to. One example is a hydrotherapy pool, a swimming pool specifically designed for providing hydrotherapy treatments and used to help patients who suffer from conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
This is an important provision to have in the city and it is great news that a brand new hydrotherapy pool will be built in Peterborough by 2019.
It will replace the St George’s Community Hydrotherapy Pool which is rapidly reaching the end of its life, and will be a big benefit to many Peterborough residents.
I know this news will be met with delight by the many people who use the facility. I received a lovely email from one resident who told me that an orthapaedic surgeon had learned of our plans and said that it was heartening that in times of austerity we are taking the longer term view and investing in the health of the community. I couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations must go to everyone involved in helping the city council win four categories at the national annual Local Government Awards.
The council won in the Efficiency, Environment and Innovation categories and our officer Lisa Roberts received the Rising Star award.
I am proud to say that we have great officers at the city council working hard to support residents and their dedication has quite rightly received national recognition.
As always, I followed with interest the government’s annual budget, delivered last week.
The Chancellor revealed that local authorities will receive an extra £2 billion to fund adult social care over the next three years. Our allocation for 2017/18 will be £3,523,087; with further funding in the two financial years to follow.
The announcement is very welcome as the pressure on the adult social care system in Peterborough, and across the UK, is very real, with a need to meet the rising costs of caring for an aging population and provide residents with the care that they deserve.