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The charity PECT recently asked people in Peterborough what they liked about the local area and what change they wanted to see happen. The results of the survey are now in, and sustainable transport has been named as the number one environmental concern for local residents.
Feedback was collected from more than 600 local residents through a range of different methods – including social media, events, press releases, focus groups and Open Gap poetry. The charity was pleased with the number of responses received and to hear from so many residents who are passionate about change happening in the city.
The purpose of PECT’s research was to find out what is valued in the city and what the main issues are, both environmentally and more generally. The results are now being used to steer the direction of the charity’s focus, to ensure its work best meets the needs of local residents, in order to make the biggest difference.
“This piece of work is an important part of building our understanding to make sure that what we do remains informed by people in and around the city,” explains PECT’s CEO Carly Leonard. “There are critical issues that need to be discussed, debated and action taken and Peterborough could be a place where this happens. There is a need to raise awareness about environmental issues and involve local residents in making that change.”
Transport was ranked first in the list of people’s concerns; with public transport, cycle path provision and maintenance, and growing traffic congestion coming in for criticism from those surveyed.
Ranked second in the list of environmental concerns was Zero Waste. Topics raised under this included litter, fly tipping, excess packaging, and issues around educating people how to correctly dispose of waste. Land Use and Wildlife ranked third in importance, with 20% of those responding in this section being concerned about the impact of housing development on wildlife.
“No one person or organisation has all of the answers to these issues, so we want to build on our relationships and create new ones so that our focus and action is informed by local needs and priorities and is more transformative as a result,” explains Carly. “We recognise that new thinking may be needed to challenge the causes of many of the environmental, social and economic issues we face.”
When asked about the challenges the city faces in general, people’s top concerns centred around the growth of the city in terms of population and issues around availability and quality of housing.
In addition to the feedback on changes residents wanted to see happen, there were many things people said they valued about the city. The top three were: the natural environment, heritage, and leisure activities. The most popular natural environment attraction by far was Ferry Meadows, with the Green Wheel and Central Park as second and third choices. The Cathedral was named the number one heritage attraction, closely followed by the Museum, Flag Fen and Longthorpe Tower.
PECT is feeding the results of this work into current and future plans for creating more sustainable places, here in Peterborough and beyond. The charity is developing a strong reputation as an organisation that carries out engagement work with communities, schools and businesses, sometimes working in partnership with other charities, to ensure work is taking place in the city that really makes a difference to the lives of people who live here.
The organisation has already worked on numerous behaviour change and engagement projects in the last 12 months, such as encouraging the use of sustainable transport, getting more active, and finding out what people think about physical improvements in the city.