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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 25 August

25 August 2023

Working to overcome the many challenges facing the council is something that I relish as leader of the authority.

When I became leader, I wanted to make the council more open and transparent, ensuring we take any opportunity to engage with residents and explain what we do.

We've achieved this through the regular 'Ask the Leader' sessions and a recent event gave me a chance to engage with residents on various issues.

A 'question time' session organised by the Peterborough Youth Council was held at ARU Peterborough last weekend, with attendees getting to quiz a panel of guests, including myself and the council's Chief Executive Matt Gladstone. It was an absolute pleasure to take part.

I was asked about our plans to establish a Youth Zone in Peterborough, which we are actively working on, so watch this space!

I also touched on our financial pressures and as regular readers will know, I am incredibly proud of the recent work we have done to improve our position, although we are not out of the woods yet.

Our budget work is an ongoing project throughout the year, and thoughts are already turning towards managing our finances next year and beyond.

Severe financial challenges are still facing us, namely the pressures around adult social care, children's services and the general demands caused by a rapidly increasing population.

However, when the time comes I am sure that all 60 of our councillors will work together for the good of the city and I will be happy to continue this collaborative approach.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this summer so far – we haven't always had the best weather but there have been some fantastic events across the city.

There is still more to see and do over the Bank Holiday weekend and coming weeks, starting with the return of the Peterborough Beer Festival.

The event is now back on the Embankment, featuring hundreds of beers, ciders, wines and gins, activities, food and games. The Beer Festival is a Peterborough institution, attracting visitors from near and far. It runs until Saturday so why not pop along if you haven't already?

Another event attracting the crowds this summer is the Cathedral's Unofficial Galaxies exhibition, featuring one of the largest private fan Star Wars collections.

The event runs until August 29 and among the exciting exhibits is a full-size Landspeeder purchased from London's Elstree Studios and the desk and chair of young Anakin Skywalker.

I've heard so much positive feedback from visitors, so take a look while you still can. Find out more at www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk

We will continue to do all we can to attract good quality events, exhibitions and shows to Peterborough, as we know that by doing so, we will attract people to spend time in the city and position it as an even better place to live, work and play.

We are fully aware that many people are struggling with the rising living costs and are keen to remind those needing help that vital support is available.

The Household Support Fund (HSF), a partnership between the council and Citizens Advice Peterborough (CAP), can help people pay for essential items.

The support runs until March 2024 and is specifically targeted at helping those most in need – families with children, pensioners and other vulnerable households.

As well as the HSF scheme, we also operate several support hubs across the city which were set up to help those in need. All hubs offer food support and many of them also provide social activities and can help with essential items.

More information about the Household Support Fund and other help available can be found at https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/council/benefits/household-support-fund

We continue to remind people of the support available to help with rising energy bills. For example, we are one of the local authorities signed up nationwide to the LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) scheme to help our residents to receive an energy audit of their homes.

Find out more here: https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/council/campaigns/local-energy-advice-partnership

It's been another anxious week for Peterborough's young people waiting for their GCSE results.

Many of them will be going on to do A-levels, other qualifications or entering the world of work, and I wish them the very best of luck.

A few will be disappointed that their results aren't quite as good as they wanted, but they mustn't worry. There is much support available – in addition to the advice they'll be getting from their teachers and families.

For careers advice they can go to https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk or call their helpline 0800 100 900. Anyone who is still anxious or struggling can visit www.keep-your-head.com/cyp