Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Mayor ‘welcomes’ Government Levelling Up paper

The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson has welcomed the Government’s Levelling Up paper.

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Labour Mayor Dr Johnson said it ‘was good the Government was tackling inequality.’

He said; “I welcome the Levelling Up White Paper. It is good that the Government agrees with us that tackling inequality is the key challenge. The Combined Authority has been investing in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough since 2017 with a key aim to help the north of the area prosper just as much as the south.

“I and the Board, made up of all the political leaders across the area, are committed to delivering good growth which reduces entrenched inequalities. We are busy investing in skills, better public transport, market town regeneration and broadband.

“It is important that the White Paper acknowledges that reducing inequality is a long-term project. Inequalities are found in every city and district in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the roots of which go back decades. It will take a committed and focused programme of investment over many years to fully meet the challenge.

“There’s lots in the government’s Levelling Up agenda we can share and I and the rest of the Combined Authority Board are looking forward to talking to Ministers about how we can take our region forward. I started the ball rolling on what I hope will be a collaborative approach with a good conversation yesterday with Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove. I reminded him that the inequalities faced in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough were as real and present as they are in the North and Midlands. Working with the Board, I’m committed to real engagement with the opportunities that the White Paper sets out.

“In the cause of levelling up, we must also ensure we protect our nationally important, dynamic and innovation-led economy. Our world class academia and research, coupled with global enterprise, means we are a major destination for inward investment and skilled people from across the world. Sustaining our success is important for both our region and the UK economy. The Combined Authority is ready to work with Government to ensure that the benefits of our unique economy spread further into the region and allow prosperity to be shared by more people.

“We want the whole region and everyone in it to be able to move forward, together.”

As part of the Levelling Up process, Peterborough and Cambridgeshire were named as ‘education cold spots,’ with a focus set to be on retaining teachers and improving standards.

As a result, the Department for Education (DfE) will offer retention payments to help schools keep the best teachers in the highest priority subjects.

Schools in these areas will also be given support to address wider issues – for example schools struggling with attendance will be encouraged to join a new pilot programme to tackle the issue.

Education investment areas will also be prioritised for new specialist sixth-form free schools.

In addition, schools in these areas that have been judged less than good in successive Ofsted inspections could be moved into multi-academy trusts, subject to a consultation later in the spring.

Cllr Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and the University said: “This is good news for Peterborough, its schools and its young people. I am delighted the Government has recognised the city as part of its Levelling Up agenda and will now inject much- needed funds and support. The White Paper sets out the Government’s ambitions for putting skills, schools and families at the heart of levelling up, and in

Peterborough we are proud to be part of this. We look forward to seeing more of the detail and working with our education leaders across the city to continue our drive for improvement.”

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said; “I welcome that the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper has identified education in Peterborough as an area which will benefit from the 55 Education Investment Areas agenda.

“The extra funding will play an important part in improving local schools, piloting a new scheme to assist those struggling with attendance and focus on retaining the best possible teachers.

“I am pleased to see this investment in Peterborough and I look forward to hearing further details when they become available.”