It’s been a busy time leading up to the elections, so I’m relieved they’re behind me and that I retained my seat on the council.
I’ve been a councillor for 39 years, but it’s always a nervous time when you’re in the hands of the electorate, waiting to see whether you’ve done enough to win their votes.
Luckily I did and I’d like to thank the residents who voted for me.
Following the elections the Conservatives now have overall control of the council with more councillors than any other party, so there will once again be a Conservative leader and cabinet. On Tuesday night I was voted by my Conservative colleagues to lead the group, which means I have the privilege of remaining leader of the council. I’ll be announcing details of my cabinet at the annual council meeting on 23 May.
I’m delighted we have chance to forge ahead with the many projects which are underway to make Peterborough an even greater place to be.
One of the most exciting is the redevelopment of Fletton Quays. You’ll have seen lots going on in this area recently with the demolition of Aqua House.
Peterborough Investment Partnership has just announced Weston Homes as the developer that will build the 280 riverside apartments and Bride Hall will bring forward the new office accommodation. I’ll also soon be able to announce our chosen partner for the proposed new hotel.
Overall it’s a fantastic development for Peterborough which will create a vibrant extension to the city centre.
With our government funding reducing, income generation will continue to be a priority of mine for the year ahead. Modern councils have to become self-sufficient if they are to provide the services residents rely upon.
This year we’ll press ahead with plans to build homes as part of a new joint venture company with a housing partner. This will provide much needed new homes for sale and rent and will provide housing for those in greatest need including the disabled and ex-armed forces personnel. It will also give us a share of the income from sales of the properties and rental income.
We’ll also be looking at how we can make more money by selling our services to other councils. Our award winning planning and legal teams are already doing this – our planning team alone generates £500,000 a year.
One of the income generators I will be looking to boost further is business rates revenue. Thanks to a government trial, we stand to make an additional £1.5 million over two years from business rates which can be used to protect services. With this in mind, I will be striving to attract new businesses to Peterborough - watch this space as I might have some good news very soon.
It’s thanks in part to our ability to generate money that we have been able to deliver a balanced budget this year, saving £24.1 million without making any cuts to services – in fact we invested in many services.
The Perkins Great Eastern Run has announced a new charity partnership with the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. Before her death in 2007, Jane Tomlinson CBE raised £1.85 million for children’s and cancer charities. Jane lived in Peterborough for a time and her daughter will be running the half marathon on Sunday 9 October.
Although it’s a national charity, all the money raised as part of the race will be shared locally amongst local causes.
If you’d like to enter the race and raise money for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, visit www.perkinsgreateasternrun.co.uk You’ll be able to select the charity you wish to raise money for during the application process.