In last week’s PT, I read with interest the “ten best reads on the web,” writes Toby Wood of the Civic Society.
This was a list of the most interesting articles for those who access the newspaper online.
It made for fascinating reading. Posh featured twice, with stories at #2 and #9. The Peterborough City Council election results featured in two other stories, at #3 and #7. But the most-read story was… Sunday dinner of choice readers.
Now I like a Sunday roast, but that’s more of a statistical indictment that our citizens may be more interested in a decent meal, than the happenings in London Road or the City Council.
Another statistical indicator of the state of affairs in the city is that in the recent elections, the participation rate was 30%. Thus, 70% of those entitled to vote chose not to do so.
Those of us who bothered to vote will have voted according to their point of view or their priorities. But that may be part of the problem with apathy. There can be a micro and a macro way of approaching political issues and national and local issues can easily be confused.
On the one hand, I may want the pothole outside my house fixed while also wanting to fix the cost of living crisis. And just look on social media to see the blue team popping the red team and vice versa, with no acknowledgment of their own shortcomings.
The Peterborough Civic Society is strictly non-political despite some of our esteemed political leaders suggesting otherwise. We want the best for our city and we will question, support or criticize the decisions made regardless of the party in charge.
However, what we want are long-lasting, well-thought-out plans with a clear purpose and direction. Last week’s front-page story about the decision to save £50,000 by not planting the city’s flowerbeds and hanging baskets was a case in point.
The move seemed to come off the cuff, although Cllr Steve Allen later tweeted that “the board is considering different ways of doing things” and that “the story was politically motivated”. Cllr Allen has accused PT reporter Adam Barker of being “a story without a story” despite the BBC and ITV also reporting on the subject.
Too often, decisions seem to be made in a piecemeal and reactive way. We are well aware that money is limited and that the government dictates to the board what it can and cannot spend. We were told that the board can only afford to fund things that are statutory. Using this logic, one can reasonably assume that Christmas is not statutory. If so, maybe we should talk now on how any tree or civic decoration can be financed. We don’t want to wait until the end of November to announce the cancellation of Civic Christmas.
The Peterborough Civic Society prides itself on its moniker of ‘seeking the best for a beautiful city’ and we, and many Peterborians, tend to judge our immediate surroundings by their appearance. We will continue to ask questions to the controlling party at the town hall. So, in the spirit of the top 10 lists, here is our own current list of areas of concern:
The Embankment – Will the territory be developed with sensitivity and for the benefit of all?
ARU Peterborough – Our new university will surely be of great benefit to the city
Northwest Gate – When will this devastated area see an improvement?
Northminster- Concerns remain about the extent of this development
Cathedral Views – Will any new development significantly avoid blocking views of the cathedral?
Traffic, bicycle and pedestrian management – How to make the city center safe and attractive?
Smart street scene avoiding clutter – How can we and other organizations help the council promote the town to residents and visitors?
Fly-tipping – How can we encourage greater pride in our environment?
Readers may notice that I have listed only nine out of ten priority areas. Can you provide the 10th? What is your priority for the city? Why not email the PT letters page with your own suggestion? I dare you!