Ready to meet the challenge

John Holdich
John Holdich
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Have your say

On Friday the papers announcing our phase one budget proposals for 2018/19 were published, writes council leader John Holdich.

This will be your first opportunity to feedback on the proposals, the second opportunity is in the new year. Find out how to this on our website homepage www.peterborough.gov.uk from 5pm.

As I’ve said to you before in my column, this will be one of the most financially challenging years yet for the council as we try to balance unprecedented demand on services with dramatically falling levels of government funding.

It’s important to state these are the phase one budget proposals and we will get a better idea of our funding once the Local Government Provisional Finance Settlement is published just before Christmas.

We have accomplished much over recent years despite continued budget reductions and we’ve done this by investing in partnerships, seeking alternative funding and really doing all we can to stand up for this city we live in.

I just want to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve done….

We’re in the process of receiving a multi-million investment to help establish an independent university, thanks to this area’s devolution deal.

Peterborough is one of the best areas in the country for housing stock growth, with more than 4,600 new homes built between 2011-16.

We are a city which continues to be very attractive for commerce. Over the past year Opportunity Peterborough has attracted 14 new businesses and we’ve created an extra 2,685 jobs.

Our schools continue to be rated well by Ofsted with over 88 per cent of pupils attending a school which is either good or outstanding.

We have invested in community facilities such as The Green Backyard and Dementia Resource Centre.

Unlike many other councils, all our libraries remain open with extended opening hours. As a consequence, we’re really making our name known on the UK map for being a forward thinking and innovative city which is thriving. Please take your time over the coming weeks to have your say in ensuring this continues to be the case for years to come.

Like many of us in the city, I was caught out by the icy conditions overnight on Monday and woke to find my car windscreen covered in a layer of frost. Thankfully I wasn’t running late and had time to de-ice the car properly before making my journey to Town Hall.

Last year 90 people were killed or seriously injured on city roads last year. To help reduce that number our Highways Services have stockpiled 3,500 tonnes of salt and have cleansed 29,000 gullies to keep roads safe. Our gritting lorries are now on standby across the city to treat almost half the network including all major A and B roads, along with all council car parks.

As motorists we can all make a difference too and that’s why we’re calling for drivers to lower their speeds, allow 10 minutes extra per journey to get the car properly de-iced and to make sure their vehicles are in good working order before setting off.

This weekend I will be laying a wreath at the steps of Peterborough’s War Memorial as part of a service of remembrance to honour those in the city who lost their lives fighting for their country.

The majority of us - myself included - are too young to remember the world wars. But what I can remember is how its lasting effect impacted on many aspects of life, including the food we ate, until well into the 1950s.

Many of you will have parents, grandparents, great grandparents or even great great grandparents who gave their lives or experienced unimaginable devastation to make sure that you and I have the freedom and independence that we do today.

Please acknowledge your thanks to them by taking part in the two minutes silence on either Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday and pledging some coins for the Poppy Appeal.