First of all I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Whatever your plans, I hope you have a great time with friends and families at this time of year.
I would also like to personally thank organisations such as the Salvation Army and Outside Links who organise events for those that may not have anyone to spend Christmas Day with.
This week I wanted to look back at what this city has achieved over the last year. I started my new role as Leader of Peterborough City Council in May and one of the aspects that I’ve been most proud of is the continued growth of the city.
Growth improves the local economy, creates jobs, builds homes, supports families, protects services and makes Peterborough an even better place to call home.
In 2015 we’ve seen the completion of one of the council’s biggest ever construction projects – the Fletton Parkway expansion. This has created extra capacity in our road network to support the continued development of the Gateway Peterborough employment site.
We’ve also completed the project to upgrade Bourges Boulevard following the improvements to the railway station and the opening of the new Waitrose supermarket. In addition, works are now underway on the former Peterborough District Hospital site to build homes and a primary school.
Through our joint venture, Peterborough Investment Partnership, plans have been approved for Fletton Quays. The area has long been in need of regeneration and now has the permissions in place to turn our hopes into reality.
Unemployment has continued to fall in the city. The total number of people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance is now at its lowest level since 1992 – even though the city has grown by tens of thousands of people over that period.
Peterborough was internationally recognised as Global Smart City 2015. This is part of the strategy to develop the city as a centre for digital technology. It’s already attracting companies, generating start-ups and pushing up the city’s average wage, helped in a large part by Peterborough’s gigabit network which provides some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK.
It’s been a great year for events in the city. In May, the Tour Series drew thousands of cycling fans into the city centre and in October we staged the biggest Perkins Great Eastern Run ever.
We’ve welcomed new events such as the wonderful Harvest Festival, organised by Metal, and our first ever Multi-Cultural Festival.
Other highlights included the Arts Festival and the Heritage Festival, organised by Vivacity, the Christmas Lights Switch-On as well as Diwali and festivals organised by our Portuguese and Italian communities. That’s not to mention the return of some West End magic at the Broadway Theatre. It doesn’t feel like I’ve had a weekend free all year!
As Leader I have ensured that even in the face of unprecedented budget cuts that front line services are protected for residents as much as possible. So far we have closed our budget deficit for next year by £12million without reducing services. For this I would like to thank all my officers for their hard work.
If you have a few minutes spare over Christmas and want to save some money then visit www.peterboroughenergy.co.uk to get a quote for the council’s energy tariff. Launched in May, 1500 households have now switched their gas and electricity to Peterborough Energy – saving an average of £242 on their annual energy bill.
Have a fantastic Christmas.