Council guilty as we’re overcharged

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

It wasn’t so much the Peterborough Telegraph last week more like the Parking Telegraph.

I’ll refresh your memory: 1) Peterborough City Council is cashing in to the tune of £65,000 a year by using ticket machines that don’t give change.

2) General disgruntlement that participants in the Race For Life were charged £2 to park their car at Ferry Meadows in the wake of new charges brought in by Nene Park Trust.

3) Pupils at Southfields Primary School in Stanground staged a protest about bad parking by parents.

4) City restaurateur Lee Clarke in his PT column called on the city council to introduce free parking in the city in the evening to boost the growing food trade.

They are all about parking, but are seemingly very different issues but there is underlying common ground to all these stories.

And that is we all love our cars and we don’t take kindly to any tactics that try to discourage our use of them.

Why should we? Unless you’re a member of the provisional wing of the Cycling Republican Army, you accept that cars are a vital part of our society’s structure.

If you drive a car, there’s one certainty – you have to park it somewhere (actually there’s two –the other is if you drop a pound coin it’ll wedge itself down the side of your seat!).

And that’s where the common ground for the stories comes in – we want to park our cars for free and close to our destination. If that doesn’t happen drivers get grumpy... and that’s putting it mildly.

The city council’s defence of its highway robbery, sorry, use of no change ticket machines won’t have put drivers in a better mood.

It claimed the expense of installing change giving machines would force up parking charges.

That’s just nonsense – setting parking charges is a political decision – they could scrap them altogether if they wanted.

The simple fact is it’s just not right to overcharge people for a service. How would a councillor like it if he went to the local pound shop paid for his pork scratchings with a fiver and got no change?

The council is guilty as we’re overcharges

But no matter how difficult (or expensive) the authorities make it for us to park there is no excuse for the selfish and stupid parents who park dangerously near schools.

Perhaps the city council should start issuing some fines and use the cash to fund some non-thieving machines.

Open and shut

I love a good mystery so perhaps someone could tell me why WH Smith has never repaired the back doors of their Bridge Street store?

For as long as I can remember, and I think it’s been years, there has been a sign on two of the three doors saying: “Please use alternative entrance as these doors a currently out of order.’’

It’s a shut and shut case.

Vote veto

The Bishop of Peterborough was spot on when he bemoaned the holding of a referendum about our membership of the EU.

The Rt Rev Donald Allister said before the vote: “I regret that we are having one. We elect a government and it is their job to govern.’’

The political turmoil that has followed proves he was right to be concerned. The changes that have ensued, including a new Prime Minister, should only be triggered by an election not a single issue.

What next a referendum on the future of the NHS, or a referendum on whether we should have any more referendums?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

As term-time gets ever nearer I’m on tenterhooks for Pre-schooler T’s first day.

We had a small taste of what to expect when we got the end of term report from her dance class.

Mrs T glowed with pride as she read it out to me. It began: “She has a wonderful personality.’’

Mrs T stopped. “What are you pulling that face for?’’ she demanded. “She has.’’

“It’s just teacher’s code, isn’t it.’’ I explained. “ ‘Wonderful personality’ equals ‘a right handful’.”

You would have thought I’d just shot Mrs T’s (non-existant) dog.

“She has got a wonderful personality,’’ Mrs T replied indignantly.

I let it go (as soon as Mrs T took her foot off my throat).

I was right, of course, but that was irrelevant.

Pre-schooler T didn’t let me down though and later that day she proved her dad right.

We were in the back garden and mum had called us in to wash our hands before lunch.

“Dad, can I water the plants,’’ asked Pre-schooler T. “No, darling, mummy’s called you in for lunch,’’ I replied.

“When you say ‘no’ I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,’’ came the reply from a little girl with a wonderful personality who is also a right handful.