As we celebrate our Queen’s 90th birthday in the City this week her Majesty’s wonderful image gazes down to us from our historic Guildhall in Cathedral Square. A Mayoral Queen’s Birthday tea party at 2.30pm in the Town Hall today (Thursday 21st) follows the coordinated lighting of our beacon outside at 2pm, following the national lighting of more than 1,000 beacons throughout the UK and Commonwealth countries. I also celebrated another birthday anniversary on Saturday last with patrons and volunteers at the Senior Stop Café in Cattle Market Road, 20 years from the very day I officially opened this great meeting and socialising café as the then Mayor of our great City. We all had a really good time and enjoyed the sandwiches and cakes most generously donated by nearby Tesco’s.
Cause for more celebration is the immediate impact made by our new Safer Peterborough Partnership Prevention and Enforcement Service. This recently launched ‘joined up’ approach to enforcement on our City streets has had a particularly proactive week tackling anti-social behaviour complaints, street begging and rough sleepers, over 100 fly-tipping issues, Bridge Street cycling, illegal traveller pitches, 24 abandoned vehicles, 45 housing enforcement visits and many other civil and criminal matters of both a prevention and an enforcement nature. I’m very pleased about the efforts being made by the officer team and, once embedded, I’m confident this good initiative will become even more effective in future.
Another of this week’s really positive Peterborough stories involves the current national debate over the country’s shortage of primary school places. Parents of pupils starting primary school in Peterborough in September 2016 have received their allocation offer and in total, 97 per cent of parents were offered one of their three preferred primary schools. Additionally, out of the parents who applied for a place before the deadline, 2,515 parents have been offered a place at their first preference primary school for September 2016, 197 parents have been offered their second preference school and 57 have been offered their third preference school.
Readers might be aware Peterborough has the third fastest growing population in the country and since 2007 we have created more than 5,000 additional school places at our primary school, at a cost in the region of £60million. We are currently building a new primary school building on the former hospital site on Thorpe Road and this will allow the current West Town Primary Academy school to relocate to a bigger site creating extra school places.
I think it’s worth mentioning that around 9 out of every 10 primary schools in Peterborough are rated good or better by Ofsted, so even if you don’t achieve you preferred 1st school place most of our schools are very well regarded by the professionals.
Charles Swift, at 62 years’ service, the country’s longest serving councillor retires in a couple of weeks and to mark the occasion he held a very well attended ‘an evening with Cllr Charles Swift OBE’ on Friday last. Charles regaled the appreciative audience with stories, anecdotes and tales of his years as a councillor and his experiences and impressions of the very many well-known people he’d met through the years. A big personality who will be missed hugely when he steps down in May, although somehow I think he’ll be popping up here and there in future!