Last November, I invited Combined Authority Mayor Dr Nik Johnson to accompany me on a walking tour of the city centre. I wanted to show him some of the key regeneration sites such as the Station Quarter and North Westgate and talk about my priorities for the city centre.
These include tackling homelessness and supporting people to leave the streets for good, a larger market offering, making greater use of the Guildhall in Cathedral Square, and developing the cultural offering, positioning Peterborough as a place to visit and spend time.
If I was to put all those priorities into one aspiration, it would be to create a city centre which is welcoming, vibrant and where people feel and are safe.
In the coming year we will continue to focus our efforts on the city centre. One of our budget proposals looks to increase our workforce to make sure the issues that matter to people such as anti-social behaviour, street drinking, littering, and graffiti are prioritised.
We are also looking to increase the number of stalls in the city market and deliver a programme of pop-up markets and other events on Cathedral Square and elsewhere in the city centre.
This week we have also taken a step forward in tackling the issue of motorists driving in areas restricted to pedestrians and cyclists.
Last year, the council was granted new enforcement powers under the Traffic Management Act 2004 after applying to the Secretary of State. From this week, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras are being used at three sites – Long Causeway (pedestrian and cycle zone), Westgate (pedestrian and cycle zone) and Queen’s Drive West (Safer School Street).
The enforcement of three further sites – Church Street (no entry), Apollo Avenue (bus gate) and Bellona Drive (bus gate) will start on a date to be confirmed.
During the first six months of enforcement warning notices will be issued on the first occasion of any offence. After this time, Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) will be issued for any further contraventions.
Our plans to improve our city centre will of course include a focus on the cultural offering and making Peterborough a place where everyone can find the creative, arts and cultural activities they want.
Leading the delivery of our Cultural Strategy is the Peterborough Cultural Alliance which has recently launched a new survey. It aims to learn what creative, arts and cultural activities people take part in, and where they visit to do so.
Everyone aged 16 and over, who lives in Peterborough, can take part. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
Visit www.peterboroughculturalstrategy.org.uk/be-heard-survey to complete the survey.
This week is National Apprenticeship Week and we’re using it as a chance to encourage more people to consider an apprenticeship.
Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce. I would encourage businesses to find out more about how they can benefit.
At the council we have supported 88 people to successfully complete an apprenticeship and we currently have 101 apprentices across our workforce – that’s a record for us! They are supported by a government levy, which enables us to support more people who may not have been able to fund it themselves.
Apprenticeships are suitable for people at any age, from levels 2 to 7, and our apprentices work in a variety of services, including social workers, teaching assistants, engineers, and a lot more.
They have had an amazing impact across the council and bring a fresh perspective to everything we do here. We are proud to celebrate them during National Apprenticeship Week.
If you were in the city centre last Friday you may have spotted Mr Monopoly walking around to announce that Peterborough is to be the latest city to land its own version of the game.
The game will be available to purchase in time for Christmas, but for now people are being asked to suggest Peterborough landmarks to feature on the famous board, as well as making suggestions for the Chance and Community Chest cards.
You can email your suggestions to peterborough.winningmoves.co.uk or visit the official Peterborough Monopoly Facebook page with your suggestion by 16 February,
And finally, if you have a question you want to ask my cabinet colleagues and I – and you don’t want to do that a Full Council meeting – you can email them to me at email@example.com
We’ll aim to get back to you in writing as quickly as possible. Remember you are also invited to attend our Full Council meetings to ask questions as well.
Cllr Mohammed Farooq is the leader of Peterborough City Council