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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column February 15

15 February 2024

Improving housing standards in Peterborough, particularly for everyone in the rental market, is one of our key priorities.

We are actively working to do this in several ways, for example we recently launched a housing strategy consultation looking at how we can meet the current and future housing needs and challenges in Peterborough.

We will also shortly be starting a selective licensing scheme aimed at improving private rental housing in certain areas of the city.

Enhancing housing standards will help us achieve sustainable growth and regeneration, helping in our ultimate aim of making Peterborough an even better place to live, work and play.

This is a long-term project, but I would like to assure residents that whenever we find evidence of poor-quality housing, our officers look to take appropriate and immediate action.

Our robust approach was demonstrated recently, following the successful prosecution of a landlord who had been housing nine people in an outbuilding at a property.

Tariq Khan (61) of Wilberforce Road, Peterborough was convicted at Peterborough Magistrates Court on 31 January of failing to comply with a prohibition order in relation to outbuildings in Clarence Road and was ordered to pay a total of £4,800.

I hope that this prosecution serves as a stark warning to the small minority of landlords who put their tenants at risk and flout the law.

Most landlords play an essential role in providing safe, warm and healthy homes to the residents of Peterborough, but we will take enforcement action under the range of powers available to us if we discover landlords who flagrantly disregard the law.

If you have any concerns about the safety, suitability and/or management of a rented property in the city, please contact (01733) 747474 or visit https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/housing/private-housing-advice.

Our city’s crematorium is a place that people may only visit for poignant occasions, but the staff who work there do an amazing job all year round and this has been recognised with an outstanding inspection report.

The facility was recently inspected by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA) and scored an impressive 462 points out of a possible 470.

It was judged on key areas including staff, services and facilities, administration, grounds and memorialisation. The venue was found to be in compliance with all areas and received much positive feedback.

It’s wonderful to see this service getting the recognition it deserves. I would like to say a big well done to the team involved. This achievement shows a great deal of professionalism and dedication and is something to be really proud of.

I have had first-hand experience of attending services at the Crematorium and the service provided by the staff there is fantastic, as are the facilities which are maintained to high standards, providing a comforting and welcoming backdrop.

I’m sure that many school pupils across the city are looking forward to next week’s half-term break, as well as teachers and parents too.

Over the past few years, we’ve been supporting eligible families with supermarket vouchers during school holidays and I’m delighted that this will continue with £10 vouchers available next week.

The vouchers will be sent automatically to eligible families using school data and information held by the city council.

I would urge families to check whether they may be eligible for free school meals during term time. Families currently paying for school meals would save around £450 a year for each primary school child if they were entitled to free school meals. Providing free school meals can also add up to £2,000 a year in Government funding to a school’s budget.

Information about free school meals and how to apply can be found at www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/schools-and-education/holiday-voucher-scheme.

This week I received an email from a resident who highlighted, after reading last week’s column in the PT, that there are issues in all areas of Peterborough which need attention and not just our city centre.

I thank him for getting in touch and I completely agree – the whole city is important, which is why we are investing in every area.

There are too many examples to list in full here, but I want to highlight some of the many ways we are enhancing the city.

Our officers recently worked with police teams to tackle littering, fly-tipping, graffiti and illegal parking in Millfield. We have also recently installed speed bumps to tackle anti-social driving in the Ortons.

We are repairing and improving roads, investing in bus services via the Combined Authority to improve connectivity and as mentioned previously, tackling poor quality housing.

There is much more still to do, of course, but I’m really proud of our ongoing efforts to make Peterborough an even better place.