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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column December 1

01 December 2023

When I became council leader earlier this month, I outlined our priorities and vision to help ensure we hit the ground running and to support the council to continue with its key work.

It’s really important to me that we build on and strengthen our existing relationships with partners, so we can deliver priorities that will enhance our city.

On that note, I am delighted our ongoing work with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) has resulted in funding to move plans for a new electric bus depot in Peterborough further forwards.

At Wednesday’s CPCA Board Meeting, it was agreed that the council will receive £200,000 to commission further feasibility work for this vital piece of infrastructure.

We want to relocate the bus depot from its current site in Millfield to a fit for purpose site capable of enabling a fully electrified bus fleet, which will benefit the city for years to come and help us become a net zero carbon city by 2030.

Our relationship with the CPCA is vitally important for Peterborough as it provides both expertise and funding to help deliver many of our priorities. I have already spent considerable time with Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and his team, and together we are establishing a new, more positive and more productive relationship.

We have already benefited significantly from funding from the CPCA, with examples including the University Quarter outline planning application. This saw £200,000 granted to build on the rapid development of the first three phases of the University. Unlocking future phases requires the production of an outline planning application and the CPCA proposes to contribute to these costs to maintain momentum of this key site.

The CPCA has also allocated £6.5m to commission an outline business case for the A16 Norwood project, unlocking a 2,945 home development site. By demonstrating continued commitment to this vital project, this allocation will develop active travel elements of the scheme, including the construction of a footbridge enabling children to access a new secondary school.

They have also supported the Station Quarter redevelopment, plus a new Nene footbridge linking into the proposed extension of the Green Wheel along Thorpe Wood. Improvements to junction 15 of Nene Parkway have been carried out and vital work at junction 3 of Fletton Parkway is being delivered.

As the city continues to grow and evolve, we anticipate an even stronger relationship with the CPCA, particularly in relation to shaping our public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure. We already have a shared commitment to bid for government funding for a flyover at the Wittering junction of the A1 to improve safety.

Further funding announcements are likely to be made soon and we will keep you updated.

We have huge aspirations for growth in Peterborough and a key part of our plans is having an improved transport system which offers better opportunities around public transport, walking and cycling, whilst not penalising those who choose to use their cars.

It is for this reason that I voted in support of the Combined Authority's updated Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP).

The plan sets out how we will provide transport options which will meet everyone's needs, thereby improving public health by providing more walking and cycling options, meeting our net zero aspirations by making it easier for people to favour public transport and ensuring that motorists are not penalised for using their cars. The plan also aims to support people to better access opportunities around education, employment and training.

There has been commentary in recent months about the updated LTCP opening the door to ultra-low emission zones or other schemes which penalise motorists. I can confirm today that the plan clearly states that schemes such as this can only be introduced if approved and endorsed by the city council. The council also has the power of ‘veto’ on the implementation of any highways related scheme within Peterborough, which means it can cease any scheme proposed by the Combined Authority which it does not believe to be in the best interests of the city. So to be absolutely clear, there will be no ULEZ or congestion charge in Peterborough under my leadership.

Last Friday I attended our Christmas lights-switch on, along with hundreds of others and what a fantastic evening it was.

The tree and lights look lovely and we had a great line-up of acts - I’d like to thank them and everyone who was involved in putting this brilliant event together. Of course, I would also like to thank everyone who came along on the night.

There are plenty of festive activities happening across the city to look forward to. The Cathedral recently hosted the spectacular Luxmuralis lights exhibition and has several Christmas-themed events over the coming weeks. Don’t forget that pantomime season gets under way at the Key Theatre this weekend, plus an open air ice rink will be opening in Cathedral Square - I might even get my skates on!

Finally, I was honoured to attend the Peterborough Telegraph’s Business Awards ceremony recently, where I presented the Business Person of the Year accolade to Keith Plater of Rapidrop Global.

This was another fantastic occasion and it was great to hear the success stories from our city's businesses, small and large from around the room.

As a council, we are supporting businesses to help them develop - they are the engine room of growth in our city and we will do whatever we can to assist them.