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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column November 24

24 November 2023

I’ve spent the past few weeks getting up to speed with the council’s on-going issues and essential business, which as you can imagine is all-consuming.

The challenges we face are well documented and there will be some tough decisions ahead, but we are working hard to make a positive difference.

This week we have some good news to share – pantomime season will go ahead at the Key Theatre following the completion of works to make the building safe to use.

Works to build a structure on the interior of the main auditorium at the theatre to ensure the safety of the public, staff and visiting companies started on 9 October following the discovery of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

Contractors have pulled out all the stops to complete the work as quickly as possible, knowing that the first performance of Aladdin takes place on Saturday 2 December.

The works were completed last week and now the team at the Key are busily returning the auditorium to normal, including installing the lighting.

I’m delighted that everyone who has booked tickets for the panto will be able to enjoy the show this Christmas and I’d like to thank the contractors who worked at pace to complete the project on time.

The Key Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary this week so in a way it is a double celebration!

We continue to work on a longer-term solution which will be a complete roof replacement which is currently in the design phase and will ensure the theatre can remain a key part of people’s Christmas celebrations this year.

Continuing with a celebratory theme, a final reminder that our city’s Christmas lights will be switched on during a spectacular event starting from 5pm tomorrow (Friday).

You may have seen on social media that our beautiful Christmas tree arrived this week and is up in Cathedral Square ready for the main event – I can’t wait to see it all lit up!

Last week Deputy Leader John Howard visited residents in Eye who are concerned about the future of the building which is home to the youth centre and library.

It is one of several buildings and pieces of land that the council is looking at as a review of our community assets, helping to decide which we should invest in and retain and which we should dispose of.

Residents there are naturally concerned that they might lose the centre, but Councillor Howard attended along with council officers to explain that no decisions have been made and that we want to now consult with residents on our plans.

No decisions have yet been made about any of the buildings we are reviewing - those decisions will be made in consultation with the public and not in isolation from the Town Hall.

Officers and councillors are now talking to various groups in the community. That will continue over the next few weeks and we will keep you updated.

It won’t be long until school children are enjoying the Christmas holidays and once again, we will be offering them the chance to enjoy some exciting half-term activities.

The Christmas Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme aims to provide healthy food and enriching activities for primary and secondary school-aged children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals.

From sports camps to arts and crafts, baking to music and dance, there are a whole host of activities available and bookings are now open to secure your places.

The sessions will include a healthy meal and a variety of exciting activities. To find out more visit

We are working with our partners to support businesses in the city centre and I’m delighted an additional police officer has been appointed for the area as part of Peterborough’s City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT).

Funded by Peterborough’s Business Improvement District (BID) members, which is made up of more than 400 businesses and organisations across the city centre, the position is an additional role within neighbourhood policing in Peterborough.

The new officer will support us in clamping down on issues such as street drinking and begging, in partnership with our own enforcement officers. They will also be engaging with businesses to become a named police contact for them, supporting them with issues such as shoplifting and also working with them to promote safety campaigns to make our city a welcoming one for all.