I’m op­ti­mistic for bet­ter exam re­sults

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Paulstainton - John Holdich

As this is my first col­umn of the year I’d like to wish res­i­dents all the best for a happy and pros­per­ous 2017.

There is al­ways a lot go­ing on in Peter­bor­ough and I be­lieve that the next 12 months will be no dif­fer­ent, with many ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ments and sub­jects to fo­cus on.

I think we can all agree that this city has waited long enough for the re­gen­er­a­tion of North West­gate and I am com­mit­ted to see­ing this progress in 2017. We an­nounced a few months ago that the coun­cil will in­vest £15mil­lion over the next three years to buy land and prop­erty so we can take a lead role in its com­pre­hen­sive re­de­vel­op­ment.

While we are plan­ning for the North West- gate scheme, on the other side of the city cen­tre the plan­ning has fin­ished and work has be­gun on Flet­ton Quays. This £120mil­lion re­gen­er­a­tion project will re­ally be­gin to take shape over the next 12 months as works to trans­form the site start to build up steam.

One project that is al­ready well un­der­way is the new Hamp­ton Gar­dens Sec­ondary School which will wel­come its first set of stu­dents in Septem­ber. The school is be­ing built to ac­com­mo­date 1,500 stu­dents and is the first ever school build­ing project be­tween our­selves and Cam­bridgeshire County Coun­cil.

We will also be work­ing closely with all of our lo­cal coun­cils in 2017 as part of the Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough Com­bined Au­thor­ity. As you will know, all our lo­cal coun­cils agreed to a de­vo­lu­tion deal with gov­ern­ment last year which has un­locked hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds of new fund­ing for hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture as well as new pow­ers on skills and em­ploy­ment.

In a few months the new Com­bined Au­thor­ity will of­fi­cially be formed and will con­tain a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from each lo­cal coun­cil in Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough as well as the Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship. I will be rep­re­sent­ing Peter­bor­ough’s in­ter­ests and I will ex­pect to see progress on an in­de­pen­dent univer­sity as well as fund­ing for new homes for our res­i­dents.

In May there will be an elec­tion for a Mayor of Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough who will chair the Com­bined Au­thor­ity. Al­though many have an­nounced they’ll be run­ning for this po­si­tion - I won’t. I do how­ever have a num­ber of fo­cuses for the year as the leader of this coun­cil.

Ini­tially this will be to en­sure that we set the best bud­get for our city and res­i­dents. The lev­els of gov­ern­ment fund­ing we get to run the city are now a frac­tion of what we re­ceived just a few short years ago, how­ever the de­mand on our ser­vices has in­creased, es­pe­cially within so­cial care.

I be­lieve as a coun­cil we have man­aged these se­vere fund­ing re­duc­tions as well as could have been ex­pected and we are now mod­ernising and in­no­vat­ing our ser­vices. In the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year (2015/16) we de­liv­ered a bud­get that did not re­duce ser­vices and we want to con­tinue to pro­tect and in­vest in vi­tal pub­lic ser­vices as far as we are able to. How­ever we do have to pri­ori­tise ser­vices for the most vul­ner­a­ble in our com­mu­ni­ties and there­fore dif­fi­cult choices will have to be made.

I will also be fo­cus­ing on ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment. We soon be­gin the re­view into the sup­port the coun­cil cur­rently of­fers schools and acad­e­mies to raise at­tain­ment and if we could be do­ing more.

In ad­di­tion I have made it my mis­sion to work with schools to im­prove read­ing stan­dards as these un­der­pin a child’s en­tire ed­u­ca­tion. I’m op­ti­mistic that exam re­sults will im­prove this year and am pleased to hear of the hard work tak­ing place in the city’s schools to achieve this.

We also need to work with part­ners to fo­cus fur­ther on home­less­ness which has risen across the UK, and in Peter­bor­ough. More homes will be one of the an­swers and I ex­pect to see progress this year from the hous­ing de­vel­op­ment com­pany we’ve formed with Cross Keys Homes.

I’ve just got space for a quick res­o­lu­tion! I’m sure like me some of you have good in­ten­tions but could do with be­ing a bit health­ier in 2017. So find out what help and ad­vice is avail­able at www.healthy­peter­bor­ough.org.uk

And if you’re feel­ing mo­ti­vated you can reg­is­ter your in­ter­est to take part in the Perkins Great East­ern Run this Oc­to­ber by vis­it­ing www.perkins­greateast­ern­run.co.uk - hun­dreds al­ready have!

Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil leader gives his view on the coun­cil and news and is­sues af­fect­ing you...

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