Peterborough will pilot Government integration plans!

Immigration

The Government has chosen Peterborough, along with 4 other local authorities, to develop an integration plan, as part of a national strategy for England.

According to the Peterborough 2011 Census, in “10.0% of households no one has English as a main language.”

Like others, I do have my concerns around this announcement.

As from my own experiences, integration challenges are not uniform throughout the city, with different areas and communities having varying needs.

The Government has promised some £50m will be committed to the new strategy over the next 2 years.

According to the Government the “ambitious, long-term plan of action’ would ‘tackle the root causes of poor integration and create a stronger, more united Britain” by boosting English language skills, increasing opportunities for women and promoting British values in education.

I also remain confused as to why in our city, students over the years have been forced to learn German or French rather than Urdu or Mandarin? Plus, I would be concerned if we lost our city’s image as a proud and successful diverse society.

With that in mind, I’ve now asked the Councils Director for People & Communities:

  1. How much of the £50m has been allocated to Peterborough City Council?
  2. Is there a plan for what the money will be spent on yet and if so what is it?
  3. What has the Council been doing in recent years to help people integrate into their communities and how much of a budget does this action require each year?
  4. Also, the reports say funding for English speakers of other languages has fallen by 50%, so how much do we allocate in Peterborough for supporting English speakers of other languages and what services does that include?

What’s YOUR thoughts? Please feel FREE to let me know below!

Bit of Fun….!

Take the British Citizenship Test! PS – I scored: 75%

Rents in Cambridge & Peterborough are 3rd highest …..

Median monthly private rents
Median monthly private rents, October 2015 to September 2016

A recent article in the Guardian Newspaper, has placed Cambridge & Peterborough in 3rd place, behind London and the West of England, for having the highest median monthly private rents!

This news has come as no surprise to me!

I was literally speaking with a local resident of Gunthorpe the other day, who was complaining how his rent, for a single bedroom property had risen from £450 to £495 a month, in recent months.

I know that in the same area, about 4 years ago, similar properties were being rented for around £350 a month!

In my opinion, we need a City Council and Government committed to ending the insecurity for private renters by introducing controls on rent rises, more secure tenancies, landlord licensing and new consumer rights for renters.

We also need to empower tenants to call time on bad landlords by giving renters new consumer rights.

Renters are spending £9.6 billion a year on homes that the government classes as ‘non-decent’.

Around a quarter of this is paid by housing benefit.

A Labour government would introduce new legal minimum standards to ensure properties are ‘fit for human habitation’ and empower tenants to take action if their rented homes are sub-standard.

As always please let e know YOUR thoughts and opinions below!

Council’s “Agile working” concept hasn’t worked!

Cllr John Holdich

A couple of years ago, the Tory controlled City Council here in Peterborough announced “Agile working” throughout their offices, claiming it would save the local authority £500,000 a year!

In fact, as recently as August this year, Gillian Beasley, CEO of Peterborough City Council was singing the praises of Agile Working via the local authority’s Insite website, claiming “I’ve personally committed to working in an agile manner along with every member of the Corporate Management Team.” – Maybe though she was simply referring to her working part time, between Peterborough and Cambridge? 🙂

Well guess what? They’ve decided to pull the scheme, essentially they are blaming growing workloads and demands on services increasing.

“The council is now proposing to remove this saving which creates an ongoing pressure of £0.5million.” – PCC Budget 2018-2019 Phase 1 Proposals

Have you got faith in a Tory administration that can make half million pound ill thought plans? Let me know what your thoughts are below!

I’ve been appointed to a new Scrutiny Committee!

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Just thought you might like to know that I have now been appointed as a rep on the City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee!

It’s a committee that I served on for several years previously, alongside the likes of Cllr Keith Sharp, leading on issues like teenage pregnancy, sharp needle bins etc and so I am very much looking forward to being back involved.

The topic of health is certainly a concern in Peterborough, especially given the fact that life expectancy for people in our city city is several years less than other areas of Cambridgeshire!

Worth noting

  • Overview and Scrutiny was introduced under the Local Government Act 2000 and its purpose is to hold the cabinet and cabinet members to account by acting independently as a critical friend through constructive challenge.
  • Overview and Scrutiny is part of our decision making structure and it reports to full council.
  • Members of the public, service users and partners are encouraged to become involved in Overview and Scrutiny by highlighting areas of concern with our service delivery.

New Schools located at Manor Drive, Gunthorpe, will open ……

 

Manor Drive

During our door knocking exercises this year, one of the big questions from residents living along or just off Manor Drive relates to what is happening with the plan to build schools at the location.

So at a previous Full Council meeting I stood up and asked the Leader of the City Council what they had planned.

He told me that the Paston Primary, which includes 1 Form of Entry (i.e. 210 pupils) has an estimated opening date of September 2018, while the Paston Secondary School, which will have a maximum of 8 Forms of Entry (1200 pupils + a 6th form) is targeted to open September 2019.

You might also remember reading about how the Council went back on their original agreement to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing in the Manor Drive area?

The reason they did this is because they were desperate for a new secondary school and therefore wavered the affordable housing provision in lieu of the provision of land for a new secondary school.

Don’t forget that the same Tories who closed down HoneyHill, Bretton Woods etc are the ones now desperate for school places!

Then of course …………. there’s the question of how will the City Council ensure that the area isn’t invaded by parking parents at certain times of the week?

Wasdale Gardens

I’ve recently become a Governor at Gunthorpe Primary School!

Gunthorpe Primary School

I’ve recently had the pleasure of becoming a School Governor at Gunthorpe Primary School, and following my first meeting, I have to say I am encouraged by the commitment and ideas shown by other members of the board.

I’ve been a governor before at Ken Stimpson, and earlier in the year, at a committee meeting, Council Officers were highlighting the need for more people to become governors.

So I put my name down.

Now I can assure you that I am not short of things to do, but playing a positive role in the education of local young people and helping promote the good work done by the local school, was far too much of an attraction to not take up the challenge.

Gunthorpe Primary School2

Teacher training opportunities available in Peterborough

​​Schools across Peterb​orough are working together to provide training opportunities. If you are a graduate and want to complete your training in a school environment apply to Teach East.
​​Schools across Peterb​orough are working together to provide training opportunities. If you are a graduate and want to complete your training in a school environment apply to Teach East.

Teaching opportunities are available in Peterborough to graduates who train under a scheme run by Peterborough City Council.

The Peterborough Teacher Training Partnership, in partnership with the University of London, is looking for graduates to train to become a teacher in schools in Peterborough.

The Teach East scheme has been training teachers for over a year and many people have completed the course and are now teaching in schools across the city. As new schools are built and existing schools continue to expand the council needs more teachers to keep up with increasing demand.

The council has successfully recruited many trainee teachers for the next intake, starting in September, but there is a particular shortage of those wanting to teach key secondary subjects in local schools. The council needs graduates from chemistry, design technology, languages, maths and physics to train to teach children aged 15 to 16 years old.

Chris Clayton, principal lead at Teach East, said:

“Our Teach East project is a fantastic opportunity for graduates to re-train and start an exciting career in teaching. We offer great support, training and development options and the long-term career prospects for teachers in Peterborough are clearly very promising.

“If you are a graduate, are looking to perhaps change careers and are interested in a career in teaching please get in touch as we would love to hear from you. Not only could you get a new job, with great prospects, but you’ll be helping local children make the most of their potential too.”

For more information visit: www.teacheast.co.uk

More funding for local schools @WPS_school

Outside Werrington Primary School
Werrington Primary School is one of the leading schools in Peterborough!

When the Lib Dems were elected to government in 2010, one of their highest priorities was to tackle the school funding problem here in Cambridgeshire.

It is simply unforgivable that local schools were receiving £600 per pupil per year less than the national average – the least of anywhere in the Country.

It is a great shame that Labour chose to ignore this underfunding during their 13 years in government.

That is why I’m extremely proud that, from April, local schools will receive an extra £23.2m each year in funding – money that will significantly improve the quality of education for local children.

This would not have happened if local people had not supported the Liberal Democrats!

I along with my Lib Dem colleagues, will continue to campaign for a long-term fairer funding formula for schools, fighting for an immediate increase in schools capital funding for us so that our school buildings can keep pace with increasing demand; be it building extra classrooms or modernising existing facilities.

Providing our schools with more funding for resources through a fairer funding formula, the Pupil Premium, and better classrooms will mean pupils, especially those from poorer backgrounds, get the support they deserve.

Remember to let me know your thoughts below!

#Werrington Children’s Centre de-designated after costing Council £87,362 a year! @Welbourneschool

photo

At the latest meeting of the City Council’s Creating Opportunities and Tackling Inequalities Scrutiny Committee, Liberal Democrat, city councillor, Darren Fower, was told Werrington Children’s Centre, would now come under the control of Welbourne School.

The move, we understand must be finalised before September 2014.

Council Officers said that at present the cost of services at the centre, to the local authority, was around £87,362 a year.

In the report presented to the Scrutiny Committee, it stated:

Welbourne Primary School to have control over the building and become the anchor tenant. In doing so they will use some of the children’s centre space to extend the school, locating the reception class in the building.

The full cost of maintaining the building will be the responsibility of the school and these costs will be supported by rental income from:

• The pre-school provider that operates from the building;

• Peterborough Learning Partnership having Werrington as their administration and, potentially, their delivery base;

• Ad hoc rental income from organisations that want to use the space.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Darren Fower told us:

“The cost of running the building will now become the responsibility of the school. The hope is that the co-location of the reception class next to the pre-school will improve transition arrangements?

“I made it clear at the meeting, that I wanted assurances local residents should experience very little inconvenience, that the facility must be available to local groups and ownership of the building should remain with the City Council.

“In a later report that evening, we discovered the Council were eyeing up the North of the City, as a place for pupil overspill from elsewhere in the city. So with that in mind, I’m also keen to ensure that local children do not miss out on progressing to Welbourne Primary School when they reach the right age.

“I also asked about assurances that the plan to cover the financial cost was viable and that we would not simply see a complete use of the pupil premiums to cover the Tory Council’s cuts in services.”

Additional Information:

  • Peterborough Learning Partnership (PLP) will be based in the building which will mean that there will be a constant presence in the centre and will militate against issues with health services around ‘lone working’ arrangements.
  • PLP has also suggested that they will want to deliver some training programmes from the building.
  • According to Peterborough City Council, “Initial concerns voiced by parents during the consultation period around continuing to access early years’ services locally have been mitigated through the securing of appropriate tenancy agreements for the de-designated centres. These tenancy agreements with identified tenants will secure the delivery of the core entitlement offer as identified above from each of the dedesignated centres.”
  • The report states that the full cost of maintaining the building will be the responsibility of the school and these costs will be supported by rental income from the pre-school provider that operates from the building; Peterborough Learning Partnership having Werrington as their administration and, potentially, their delivery base; and ad hoc rental income from organisations that want to use the space.