Bringing communities together

Cllr John Holdich
Cllr John Holdich

Our city is built on a long history of migration. We are diverse, vibrant and proud to celebrate our differences as together these are the things that unite us, writes Peterborough City Council leader cllr John Holdich.

Because of this, we are a welcoming city and on the whole I think that people from different backgrounds get on well together. You only have to attend one of the many cultural festivals we host in the city each year, such as the Italian or Diwali events, to see that. But of course there is more we can all do to bring people together to break down barriers.

Diwali celebrations in the City Centre. 2018    procession from the Cathedral to the Guildhall EMN-181027-170459009

Diwali celebrations in the City Centre. 2018 procession from the Cathedral to the Guildhall EMN-181027-170459009

Last year we were recognised for our community work by the government, who invited Peterborough to be one of five areas to take part in its integrated communities strategy, to improve and showcase successful integration across the UK.

As part of this, we’ve just launched the Peterborough Communities Fund which is an opportunity for people to make a real difference in their community.

Local groups and organisations can apply for funds to deliver projects that bring our communities together, whatever their background, race or religion.

People can apply for grants of up to £20,000 - but we’re equally happy if you just need a few hundred pounds; we know that often just a small amount of funding can make a huge difference.

Applications are invited from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors and we also welcome joint bids from groups who want to bring communities together. Ideas that have the potential to run and run are particularly welcome.

For more details visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/communitiesfund

Temperatures have certainly plummeted over the past week and naturally people are concerned for rough sleepers in the city.

As a result, the council activated its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) last week. This is based at Fairview Court in Oundle Road, and has beds for 18 people as well as 10 crash beds, provided through the Rough Sleeper initiative funding.

On the first night of SWEP (last Thursday, the coldest night of the year), only nine of these beds were filled, with nine more beds remaining empty.

If you see rough sleepers out and about, please let us know by contacting the council on 01733 747474 or downloading the Streetlink app on your mobile phone.

Rough sleepers who want support in getting off the streets for good can either contact the council, attend Fairview Court or the Garden House day shelter located in the cathedral grounds from 10am - 4pm, Monday to Friday.

You might recall that I’m asking people to comment on a blueprint for how the city might look in 2035. You can find out more on our website and comment by emailing john.holdich@peterborough.gov.uk

Although some people think it’s my vision and desire to see the city grow, the fact is that we are required to do so by Government and to plan for this, so the city can accommodate our children and grandchildren.

Population growth brings its challenges, but it also brings huge opportunities. In the past six years our income from business rates has increased by £12.2million and we’ve generated £21.6m in additional council tax.

Without the growth that we’ve witnessed in our city, we could not have achieved this additional income which, crucially, has supported us to deliver balanced budgets year after year and protect the services that our residents need and value.