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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 9 June

09 June 2023

Our city’s skyline has changed dramatically over the last few years and will be further enhanced by our exciting regeneration work.

There’s so much to look forward to – the Station Quarter re-vamp, our new plans for The Vine, Northminster and the ongoing development of Fletton Quays to name but a few.

Another key project is a new pedestrian bridge over the River Nene, which will link the Embankment with Fletton Quays, providing a main connection into the city centre.

When I became council leader in 2021 one of my main aims was to make the authority more transparent and engaging – I wanted residents to get a better understanding of why we do what we do and where possible, give people a chance to have their say.

We recently held a public consultation over the plans for the bridge and had a fantastic response, with over 500 people completing it.

Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the consultation - we wanted as many people as possible to have their say so we can incorporate this into the final plans before the design goes to planning later this year.

If the plans get approved, the current estimated timeline will see construction start in mid-2024 and finish in mid-2025.

To recap, this exciting project will offer a non-vehicular alternative route across the river, away from the busy main road. It will create a local landmark, along with a good transport link for pedestrians and cyclists from Fletton Quays to the new University campus and Embankment area.

A total of £2million has been pledged by the Government’s Towns Fund, part of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

This money has been ring-fenced by the Government and can only be spent on this project. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) has contributed £3.4million, with the remainder coming from the council’s redevelopment budget.

There’s been a fair bit of media coverage about last week’s CPCA meeting where the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan was due to be discussed. It’s not all been accurate, and so I would like to make my position clear.

I have repeatedly aired my views on 15/20 minute cities, or LTNS as they are sometimes known, including at a meeting of Full Council on 22 March when I was asked a question by a member of the pubic.

My position has not changed - the Conservative administration in Peterborough will not be introducing 15/20 minute cities, nor will we support workplace charging policies or congestion charging.

I have repeatedly expressed concerns to the combined authority via council officers that the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan in its current form is not something that the Conservatives in Peterborough can support.

Even as late as the Saturday before the CPCA meeting I had a conversation with the Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, and reaffirmed my position. The night before the meeting, CPCA officers were working to amend the policy but it did not go far enough.

To clarify, I did not use my veto as has been reported elsewhere - there was no vote for me to do so. The mayor, as he knew there were concerns in the room, withdrew the paper and it will now be considered at a meeting in July, where hopefully we can reach consensus as there is a lot of good stuff in the policy.

To suggest the meeting was hijacked is simply untrue. It was a convivial meeting, where there was discussion about the best way forward for the plan. In addition, there is no jeopardy in the funding we are due to receive from Government and I personally confirmed this with ministers beforehand.

We have also had a good response to our social media poll on the Cathedral Square fountains and I’d like to thank everyone who took part. As mentioned, I am always looking for innovative ways to engage with members of the public and make the council more transparent.

Whilst we may not always take decisions based on the outcomes of such polls, it helps to inform our thinking and to understand how people feel about a particular subject.