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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column February 29

29 February 2024

Ensuring that our city centre is an attractive destination for visitors, businesses and shoppers is one of my key priorities and something I am actively invested in.

Within a month of becoming leader I showed the Combined Authority’s Mayor Dr Nik Johnson around the area and started conversations over how we can make better use of Cathedral Square and the Guildhall.

We have explained our reasons for permanently switching off the Cathedral Square fountains and now we must look forwards to creating something even better for the city centre and we want your help with this.

Our residents are key to helping us develop exciting plans for the city centre and that is why we are asking you to have your say on the area as part of a new survey which launched this week.

We are encouraging everyone who calls Peterborough home as well as those who work and visit the city to let us know their thoughts.

As I often say, this is an opportune moment for Peterborough. We are on the cusp of a regeneration journey not seen for decades and the city centre is a vital area that we would like to revitalise and make a place to be enjoyed all year round.

Our vision for the city centre is to breathe new life into the area and to restore its heritage value to provide a space that meets the needs of today. The feedback collected will provide insight to help shape any future proposals to develop and regenerate the area, so please take a few minutes of your time to take part.

The survey is open until midnight on Sunday 24 March - visit to take part. Paper copies are available on request from

Something highly unusual happened at last week’s full council meeting, with every single member approving our budget for 2024/25.

It is the first time this has happened for a very long time, so I want to thank members of all parties for their positive support on this vital matter.

As a result, we are now in control of our own destiny and delivering a balanced budget which will meet our residents' needs and invest in the growth of the city - that is well worth celebrating.

The alternative situation is what councils such as Birmingham City and Nottingham City are experiencing, with eye-watering cuts to public services and facilities combined with council tax rises.

Our budget supports the cabinet’s priorities by investing in growth and regeneration, protecting the vulnerable, education and the environment. It also tackles the issues that are placing huge demand on our budgets, for example, by investing more money into Children’s Services.

We will continue our focus on growth and regeneration and attracting new employers to Peterborough, knowing this supports and bolsters our local economy and will provide more jobs.

Supporting vulnerable people in Peterborough is another key priority and we are making residents aware of a new scheme aimed at helping those in need of white goods and appliances.

Energy efficient white goods are being provided to households whose white goods are out of use, or need replacement by more energy efficient alternatives due to hardship caused by high running costs.

The offer is being provided as part of our on-going work to help support residents who are struggling with high living costs. Applicants will be asked questions to help determine eligibility and distribution will be on a first come, first served basis.

The scheme is being provided at Cost of Living Support Hubs across Peterborough, but is only available until the end of March. Visit for more details.

The school Easter holidays are now just one month away and no doubt parents will be glad to hear that we are continuing our popular Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme then.

The scheme provides enriching activities and healthy food for primary and secondary school-aged children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals.

It helps children to be active over the school holidays, eat healthily, and learn more about health and nutrition, as well as giving children the chance to take part in fun, engaging and enriching activities.

Places can now be booked for the Easter break - visit

Finally, we have such great college education in Peterborough and I want to mention this because National Colleges Week is currently taking place.

I attended Peterborough College back in the 1980s as an Electrical Installation student. My education and experiences there gave me a great platform to build a career which I will always be grateful for.

This college, along with others and our new university are ensuring that new generations are getting similar opportunities which bodes well for our city’s future.