Saturday signals the beginning of the festive season in Peterborough with our Christmas lights switch-on taking place.
It’s always a great event and a real treat to see the faces of the children on Cathedral Square when Father Christmas appears on stage and the lights are switched on.
This year’s event will be our biggest yet because we’ve teamed up with Queensgate so that both switch-ons take place on the same night. The city centre lights will be turned on at 5pm with the build-up starting from 1pm with a line-up of local acts to get everyone in the Christmas spirit on the square.
Proceedings will then move to Queensgate for the centre’s festive celebrations. Starting at 5.30pm, crowds can expect plenty of entertainment including the official opening of Father Christmas’ grotto and the switch-on at around 7pm.
Our city centre at Christmas is a real delight and the decorations complement the works we have undertaken to make our city modern and attractive which in turn has helped attract many new shops and restaurants.
Only last week it was revealed in this newspaper that a new steakhouse will be looking to open in the new year in three empty units in Bridge Street, including the former Visitor Information Centre. In the past few days we’ve received a licensing application for a new bar on Bridge Street.
This, along with the many other newcomers to our city centre in the past few years, shows a real confidence in our city and our economy.
I’m not surprised; our city centre is unrecognisable to what it was 10 years ago thanks to our investment in Cathedral Square, St John’s Square, Cowgate, Long Causeway and Bridge Street.
And we’re not finished; work is progressing well to regenerate Lower Bridge Street and as you might have seen in last week’s paper, work has started to transform Fletton Quays, a crucial part of our city centre which has failed to realise its potential. Works to demolish part of the former Whitworth Mill building are under way to clear the site ahead of the wider regeneration of Fletton Quays which includes 280 homes along- side leisure and retail facilities.
The investment doesn’t end there; we’re now looking to take the lead so the city can benefit from the redevelopment of North Westgate - another city centre site that could achieve so much more.
The news has been well received and I’ve had emails and comments from residents who are excited about what the future could look like for this area. There are those who dispute our need to get involved in the site, but I disagree. Others have had time to make a success of the scheme but to no avail.
By the council working with key landowners, assembling land and property and leading the redevelopment process in the way we have Fletton Quays, there is a much greater chance that the potential of North Westgate will be realised and we can have a city centre which is vibrant and thriving in every corner.
And a well done to students from Arthur Mellows Village College, The Fulbridge Academy and Southfields Primary School who are taking part in European Local Democracy week celebrations.
Schools were asked to deliver events and activities which promoted an understanding of living together in culturally diverse societies. The three schools will be showcased at a judging event at the Town Hall next week.
The young people of today are the voters and, indeed, leaders of tomorrow so it is important we offer opportunities and encourage learning on the subject of democracy.
Peterborough has a Youth MP who represents the city at the UK Youth Parliament, and we also have a very active Youth Council which gives the city’s younger residents a voice. This helps make sure that every member of our community has a say in key decisions, and, as witnessed this year with the European Union referendum and US presidential elections, democracy can be a fascinating political topic to follow.