C ommunities stand together in the face of terrorism. This position couldn’t be clearer at present, writes leader of Peterborough City Council cllr John Holdich.
The families of those who lost loved ones during the tragic events in London have been in my thoughts, as I am sure they have yours; but from such terrible adversity does come a ray of positivity, and that is in the steadfast, resolute reaction we have seen.
The best response to horrific attacks as took place in Westminster is to make sure we come together in solidarity and not allow any terrorist activity to divide us.
An overwhelming showing of unity has shone all over the UK in the past week and our great city of Peterborough remains united in defiance against such extremism.
We are fortunate to live in a city that has people from all manner of backgrounds, faiths and cultures, many of whom are working together to help build an even more cohesive, united society.
Community cohesion is about recognising that we may not all be the same, but we treat each other with equality, mutual respect and understanding.
The day after the attack, faith and community leaders from across Peterborough, city councillors and representatives from Cambridgeshire Police, gathered at the Town Hall to show unity and open a book of condolence for members of the public to pay their respects to those affected by the London attack.
This unity of collaboration is evident all year round. For example, there are a number of festivals held to allow people to learn about the different cultures that make up Peterborough’s community. Still to come this year are the Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Diwali Festivals, as well as events to mark Black History Month.
Groups work tirelessly to make Peterborough a more cohesive place by enabling everyone, regardless of background, belief or circumstances to be respected and feel an equal part of our city.
Many of our faith groups run food banks for residents who need support in times of hardship.
In addition, the council employs people as community connectors who work to develop a closer rapport and partnership with different community groups. They have a wealth of experience in different cultural backgrounds and linguistic skills.
They provide essential community engagement and support, especially where cultural and language barriers are encountered.
Sometimes misunderstandings do happen and this can lead to community tension.
One way we deal with this is through a Tension Monitoring Group. The group meets regularly to discuss current issues and improve relationships in the community, a recent example being after the Brexit vote which could have led to tension.
Peterborough is a diverse city, but a united one, and I am proud of this as equally as I have been moved by the reaction of the nation to last week’s events.
An outstanding Ofsted rating is always good news, but for a school to receive it five times in a row is nothing short of fantastic.
The city council-run Caverstede Early Years Centre has achieved exactly that this week, much to the delight of staff and children.
Peterborough is one of the best areas in the country for schools judged good or outstanding by Ofsted, and Caverstede exemplifies this ongoing level of excellence.
I visited the pre-school this week and was hugely impressed by all the tremendous work on display and by the positive atmosphere, enthusiasm of the pupils and members of staff.
Ensuring our city centre is accessible for all is really important, so I’m delighted that the council and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been awarded £50,000 by the Department of Transport to develop new technology to make it easier for partially sighted and blind people to navigate our busy streets and services.
We’ll be using the money to build on some whizzy technology that the RNIB already has which uses an app and filters that show what the view is like for people with common eye conditions such as Cataracts, Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration. This will help our officers see life as a partially sighted person and then move onto developing innovative technology to make Peterborough’s city streets safer for them.
I would like to conclude by offering my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Councillor Marcus Sims who sadly passed away last weekend.
It came as a real shock to hear the news and it was met with sadness across the council.
Councillor Sims was a gentle man; he didn’t shout the loudest, but he was a passionate and hard-working councillor who strove to do the best for the people of his ward and the wider city. He will be greatly missed.