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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 28 July

28 July 2023

At this week’s meeting of Full Council – where all 60 councillors come together – we were asked to note the latest report from the council’s Independent Improvement Panel.

We have come a long way since the panel was set up at the end of 2021 – evidenced by our shortlisting at this year’s Local Government Chronicle awards in the category of Most Improved Council.

This latest report once again confirms our progress and highlights the huge amount we have achieved in the past six months. We know we are moving in the right direction, but it is great to get that confirmed by an independent panel of experts.

Rightly so, the report is also brutally honest about the challenges that remain for the council.

As I have said many times before, we know we are not yet out of the woods when it comes to securing the future of the council. These are extremely challenging times for local authorities - you don’t go many days without hearing in the news about a council that is in severe financial difficulty. Populations are rising, as is demand and the cost of running services.

However, what sets us apart in Peterborough is that we have been aware of our challenges for some time and we have been plannng for how we will address them.

We are moving towards our goal of becoming a financially sustainable council, ending the last financial year with a £0.6m underspend. Panel members found that we have maintained a high level of control on revenue expenditure and continued to make improvements in both the way we manage budgets and in how we make financial decisions.

The next phase of our improvement journey is around the transformation of services, which means providing the best services possible for our residents within the budget that we have available. Our portfolio boards linked to our Corporate Strategy are driving this work and it will secure the long-term future of the council.

We know we still have many challenges ahead, like all local authorities, but what sets us apart is that we have a firm grip on those challenges and have plans in place to address them.

Young people looking for future career opportunities can get helpful advice at a special event coming to Sand Martin House next month.

The Future You Careers Event on 17 August is being hosted with The Department of Work and Pensions and ARU Peterborough and is aimed at under-24s.

Employers including McCormick, Morgan Sindall, Anglian Water, Cross Keys Homes, Amazon, NHS and Bauer Media will be giving out advice and talking to attendees at the event.

There will be demonstrations by an experienced lecturer from ARU Peterborough in gaming, AR, AI and VR, as well as an interactive climbing wall courtesy of the Armed Forces.

You can register your interest by searching for Peterborough youth careers event on Eventbrite.

Mourners visiting the city’s crematorium are being offered the chance to post letters to lost loved ones as part of a poignant new initiative.

A special post box, called the ‘Hive of Memories’, has been set up at the site. For a small donation, mourners can write messages on paper impregnated with wildflower seeds that will be planted when the hive is emptied. Normal card and paper can also be used.

The idea follows the popularity of ‘Heavenly Post Boxes’ at several crematoriums nationally, which were set up after grieving Nottingham schoolgirl Matilda Handy wanted a ‘post box to heaven’ after her grandparents passed away.

Writing to a loved one after they have passed away has been shown to help with the grieving process, especially on anniversaries and special occasions. The grieving process is of course very individual and we hope that the Hive of Memories can offer support to those who are coming to terms with a loss.

For more information, or to purchase the wildflower impregnated biodegradable paper, please contact the Bereavement Services Office on 01733 262639 or email crematorium@peterborough.gov.uk

Finally, the latest Ask the Leader session took place this week, with questions from residents on subjects including transport upgrades, the city bus station and junk food advertising.

You can watch it back on the council’s YouTube account.

The next session will be held in September, so if you have a question, please email it to me at asktheleader@peterborough.gov.uk