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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 23 June

23 June 2023

Seeing our new university ARU Peterborough open its doors to students last September was a proud moment and a real game-changer for our city.

ARU Peterborough will play a key role in shaping our city’s future, by boosting the skills and earning potential of our residents and bringing more economic prosperity.

The university is developing before our very eyes and this week I joined colleagues and partners for a ground-breaking ceremony to mark work starting on a second teaching building there, as part of the third phase of construction.

The new building, incorporating a ‘Living Lab’ public science facility, will be built on the former Regional Pool car park and is due to open in autumn 2024. The facility will be a publicly accessible, interactive science venue and education space. It aims to engage and inspire residents and visitors in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) topics.

It will form part of a pedestrian-friendly campus and will have the flexibility to host a variety of events, exhibitions, education opportunities with local schools, immersive displays, talks, forums and evening classes. Students will also be able to engage the community in their research, embedding work at the university even further in the community.

We want the campus to a become a cultural attraction for Peterborough, and a centrepiece within a new University Quarter which is publicly accessible and attractively designed.

The second teaching building will support mainly STEM fields and expand the number of places for students. There will be specialist teaching labs, including microbiology, general teaching spaces, office space and a social learning space.

ARU Peterborough is an employment-focused university, with a curriculum developed in collaboration with local employers, giving students the skills demanded in the local economy, helping them into good careers and helping businesses to grow.

This exciting development sees £30million of investment into Peterborough. This includes £20 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, £4million from Anglia Ruskin University, and £2 million from the Combined Authority’s Business Board. The council has contributed land for the project to an investment value of £2 million.

We will keep you updated on progress as the university continues to develop.

One of our key goals over the next 12 months is reducing carbon emissions as we continue to work towards becoming a net zero carbon organisation.

At Full Council last night (Wednesday), members were asked to approve a Climate Change Action Plan for 2023 which proposes several key commitments for achieving these aims.

This includes a roadmap to net zero emissions, installing solar panels and LED lighting for suitable buildings, continued tree planting, as well as supporting suppliers to reduce emissions.

There will also be a focus on expanding carbon literacy training to staff and councillors, exploring options for additional electric vehicle charging at council buildings and securing funding to review utility billing reform.

This is an ongoing project and it’s likely that additional projects to reduce carbon emissions will be brought forward over time.

We’ve already made good progress with this work, including securing funding to plant trees and researching and drafting a procurement plan to reduce supply chain emissions.

The council also received funding for the development of heat decarbonisation plans for 14 of its buildings, whilst HVO fuel has continued to be used by the Peterborough Highways Service, delivering a 90% reduction in emissions in comparison to diesel.

Our events calendar is particularly busy over the next couple of months and there is plenty happening this week and next.

Today (Thursday) we celebrated the remarkable contributions of the Windrush generation with a special flag-raising ceremony outside the Town Hall.

The dedicated work of our armed forces personnel will be celebrated on Saturday with live music and other attractions in Cathedral Square as Armed Forces Day returns to Peterborough.

On the same day, Peterborough Pride Group will be marching from Stanley Rec to the Green Backyard from 1pm.

This week is also Refugee Week – a chance to highlight refugees' voices, celebrate their unique journeys, and nurture a sense of belonging within our city. Project O will be hosted at The Key Theatre on Saturday – find out more on their website.

Finally, the next session of Ask the Leader takes place on Tuesday (27 June) and there’s still time to get your questions in.

Ask the Leader gives everyone the opportunity to ask a question or raise an issue about a local matter affecting their lives. You can ask that question during an online session and myself and council colleagues will provide an answer and have a discussion, if necessary.

The session is recorded and later published on the council’s YouTube channel.

If you have a question you would like to ask email by the end of this week.