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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column December 21

21 December 2023

As this is my final column of 2023, I’d like to start off by wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a happy New Year.

For me, Christmas is a chance to spend quality time with family, before getting back to the job at hand.

The past 12 months have been a time of great progress but also many challenges. No doubt 2024 will be similar and I can assure that there is much to look forward to.

We are making progress on several key projects and I’m delighted that one such initiative, aimed at improving accommodation standards in the private rented sector, has been given the green light by government.

Our selective licensing scheme will be introduced in March 2024 in parts of the city where there are high levels of privately rented accommodation.

We are partnering with Home Safe to administer the application process and once this goes live, private landlords with properties in the designated areas will be able to apply for a licence. In the meantime, we would strongly urge all landlords to check whether their properties fall within the new areas for the scheme.

To obtain a licence, landlords will have to meet certain standards and comply with conditions which include ensuring the property has a gas safety certificate, working smoke alarms and safe electrical appliances and furniture. These requirements are mandatory licence conditions.

Selective licensing will help enhance the work we already do with landlords operating in the private rented sector. It will allow us to have a more active role in ensuring all private tenants can live in housing that is safe, of high standard, appropriately managed and offers appropriate tenancy protection.

I would also like to thank our Housing Standards team within Regulatory Services that has worked incredibly hard to achieve a scheme that now has the approval of the secretary of state and will improve the quality of life for everyone in an area by ensuring a consistently high standard of privately rented accommodation.

As mentioned, all landlords, management agents or tenants within the designated areas are advised to find out whether their property will be affected by the new scheme.

They can do so by visiting Further details will be announced in the coming weeks about how applications for licences can be made.

One aspect of Christmas that many people aren’t so keen on is dealing with the amount of rubbish it can generate.

Sometimes it can feel confusing about what waste can and can’t be thrown out or recycled, but the good news is we are here to help. Over the next week, we’ll be promoting Christmas waste advice on our social media channels, so please look out for this.

It's not just the obvious benefit to the environment, every 1% increase in recycling achieves a £66k benefit to the council and our taxpayers – money that can be used to provide services.

In the past year we have concentrated on improving our recycling rates by investing in dedicated education and engagement officers who are now working directly with our communities to improve recycling rates.

And on that note, if you haven't watched our social media video of Barnack Primary School pupils singing a recycling rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, then you must. It's very cute and has attracted lots of interest on our social media channels.

We are also reminding people that some council services will be available over the Christmas period and New Year period whilst others will close.

Our call centre team will be working until 12pm on Friday 22 December and then from 9am to 5pm between Christmas and New year - with the exception of benefits, council tax and parking phone lines (these will be closed for the Christmas period and re-open on Tuesday 2 January).

Please bear in mind that the call centre traditionally receives a high volume of calls in the run up to Christmas, so calls may take longer than normal to be answered.

Residents are also reminded that receptions at Peterborough Town Hall and Sand Martin House will remain closed over the Christmas period, visit for full details.

It’s been great to see so many people enjoying our Christmas market and other festive activities over the past couple of weeks.

The open-air ice rink in Cathedral Square has also proved popular and don’t forget that it will remain in place up until 7 January, so there’s still plenty of time to get your skates on!

Visit for details and tickets.

And finally, I’d like to thank everyone who will be working over the Christmas and New Year period –people like my son who will be working for the NHS. I am thinking not just of our own staff – social workers, gritting crews, refuse collectors for example – but those who work for the police, fire, health services and other organisations which keep the city going 24/7.

If this is you, I hope you get some rest during the festive period.