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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column December 14

14 December 2023

Since becoming council leader I have worked hard to foster a more positive and collaborative relationship with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) and in particular Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson.

Our relationship with the CPCA is vitally important for Peterborough as it provides both expertise and funding to help deliver many of our priorities.

On Monday I took Dr Nik for a walkabout of the city centre as I wanted to personally show him a number of the key regeneration sites and talk about our priorities for Peterborough.

These priorities include tackling homelessness and supporting people to leave the streets for good, aspirations for a larger market offering in the city centre, making greater use of the Guildhall in Cathedral Square, and developing the city’s cultural offering, positioning Peterborough as a place to visit and spend time.

The tour included Bridge Street and Cathedral Square, as well as Broadway and Central Library, where central government Towns Fund money will be used to provide a community hub, to be known as The Vine. We also visited the regeneration scheme at Northminster, the former market site, where £14million of CPCA funding has been used to redevelop the site into more than 350 private affordable homes, and the area known as North Westgate, which is identified for regeneration.

I also spoke to Dr Nik about the station quarter redevelopment, which is progressing thanks to £48m Levelling Up Funding that has been secured by the council and the combined authority. He also promised to support us in our plans to develop and enhance the council’s cultural offering.

It was clear that our thinking is aligned in so many areas, and there is a huge amount of support from the combined authority for the areas that we know we need to focus on.

Dr Nik made it very clear that he wants to support our city, not only through financial grants, but by standing up with me and many others who are banging the drum for Peterborough.

Our new university ARU Peterborough has only been open for just over a year but is building an impressive reputation and already winning prestigious awards.

Last week it was awarded Uni of the Year at The Times Higher Education Awards in Liverpool – a huge well done to all involved!

This follows on from winning The University of the Year at the UK Social Mobility Awards, in recognition of the role ARU Peterborough is playing in advancing social mobility.

Peterborough has wanted to deliver a new university to tackle a higher education ‘coldspot’ which has held back economic growth and opportunity here. Through an innovative partnership between the council, the combined authority and Angia Ruskin University this ambition has been made a reality.

In September 2022, ARU Peterborough opened on time and on budget and is home to custom-built facilities including a simulated hospital ward, science lab and engineering lab. It has established itself as a new employment-focused university and is delivering on its objectives.

Continuing with a higher education theme, I was honoured to attend a special ground-breaking ceremony for Peterborough College’s new Green Technology Centre last week.

Along with several dignitaries, I was delighted to see work getting under way on the new facility, which is one of eight projects we’re contributing funding towards as part of the government’s Towns Fund Programme.

For me personally, it was a very special occasion as the college holds treasured memories - I attended there 37 years ago to study an engineering qualification and always look forward to going back.

The new centre is part of the Inspire Education Group, comprising of Stamford College, Peterborough College and University Centre Peterborough. Once open, it will deliver an innovative curriculum getting students ready for careers focused on green technology – such as sustainable construction and electric vehicle manufacturing.

I’m delighted to report that the council has been successful with two funding bids to central government.

A grant totalling £2.75million has been awarded to the Peterborough Accelerated Net Zero (PANZ) partnership, which the council is part of along with several organisations. This money will be used to further develop net zero projects, tying in with our key goal to reduce carbon emissions across Peterborough.

Secondly, we have been granted £3million to purchase 25 properties which will help

rough sleepers with multiple and complex needs to get intensive support and help them back into permanent accommodation.

I would like to pass my congratulations on to the teams involved with these bids; they are going to help us make a real positive difference.

Finally, you may have seen that the Lido is now closed for the winter, but it’s been great to see it opening for longer this year.

The facility will open again next year as soon as the weather allows and we will keep you updated.