Words won’t build bridges for Peterborough

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

The good people of All Saints’ Church tweeted that their prayers had been answered.

And Peterborough Civic Society hailed it as “aspiration into reality’’.

So what sparked this joy? Well, it was the announcement that Peterborough City Council had included plans for a foot and cycle bridge linking Fletton Quays in its Local Plan.

It says any new development, hopefully a university campus, on the North Bank must include plans for a bridge.

Much as I want a bridge built I’m afraid I can’t join in the general whooping and hollering.

The harsh reality is the bridge should be being built this very minute in tandem with the Fletton Quays development.

Some vague future promise is simply not good enough, and shows a dispiriting lack of ambition and aspiration from the city council.

We can’t afford it, the council whines, although seeing as it apparently goes bridge shopping in the equivalent of Harrods judging by how much it reckons a new Rhubarb Bridge would cost, they probably can’t.

So why should we trust them to deliver in future? What do you think will happen if money is tight when/if the university campus is built? I’ll tell you what won’t happen, a new bridge won’t happen.

The development of this area of the city has seen so many broken promises over the decades (yes, decades) it had to be renamed so toxic had the term “South Bank’’ become.

This city council should be congratulated for finally seeing the area developed, but it has missed a huge opportunity.

Growth should not just be about offices and warehouses and blocks of flats. It should be about new leisure facilities and bridges.

I love the optimism of the folk at All Saints’ Church, but I hope they don’tstop praying for the bridge.

Freedom for who?

As a journalist, you might imagine I would think the Freedom Of Information Act was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But I don’t. It should be renamed the Freedom To Not Tell You What We Don’t Want To Act. There are things that legitimately should be kept secret from the public.If a request from Mr Kim Jong-un about the UK’s nuclear defence capabilities arrives on the desk of a civil servant at the Ministry Of Defence then hopefully it will be red flagged.

But really, is there anything involving Peterborough City Council that shouldn’t be available to the public?

Lost for words

Academics at York University have come up with a list of 30 ‘lost words’ that would be useful today. Among them are ‘betrump’ which means to deceive, cheat, elude, slip from.

Another is slug-a-bed which is one who lies long in bed through laziness (Mrs T has plenty of words for this already).

But my favourite was teen which means to vex, irritate, annoy, anger, enrage, to inflict suffering upon. Incredibly, it has nothing to do with teenagers!

Dance chance

Peterborough has good claims to being the dance capital of the UK. Olympic gymnast and Arthur Mellows old boy Louis Smith has already lifted the Strictly Come Dancing trophy, and don’t bet against his mate and Jack Hunt alumni Aston Merrygold to follow suit in the new series. I’m still waiting for a call from the producers. The news that the show may soon include same sex partners won’t improve my chances. But, if they extended it to those with two left feet and no sense of rhythm, I’d start sowing my sequins on.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I have to admit that my language can be, er, a little industrial. I blame it on working in newsrooms for more than 30 years and supporting Leeds United for even longer.

Having two young children brings some extra challenges, and I dread the day one of them says something they shouldn’t, particularly if it’s in earshot of a passing grandparent.

I’m not proud of the fact that the odd expletive has slipped out in front of my children.

Schoolgirl T is quick to admonish me, but bright enough not to repeat, preferring to wring a grovelling apology out of me instead.

I’m much more worried about Toddlernator the Terrible as I don’t think he’ll be interested in showing any such restraint.

“That’s a naughty word,’’ he complained the other morning. Mrs T shot me a death stare but I pleaded: “I didn’t, honestly.’’

“What naughty word?’’ I asked him. “Rascal,’’ he replied, “you called me a rascal!’’ I’ll probably call him worse!