Don’t let this become a walk on the wild side

Another sickening and brutal attack on a vulnerable Peterborough resident made headlines the city can do without.

The vicious beating of RAF veteran Richard Sandon appalled all decent folk.

There was, not surprisingly and understandably, something of a kneejerk reaction, but horrid as it was it is important to keep a sense of perspective.

Sadly crimes like this have always happened and, even sadder, probably always will.

The question is not is it safe to go out in the city? You might as well ask is it safe to drive a car or eat peanuts. And the answer to all three questions is ‘yes’.. mostly.

The question should be is it less safe now? And if it is then we have a problem to address.

The trouble is we don’t know if our streets are safer or not because senior police and the politicians have colluded over many years to fiddle crime figures to the point that they have no credance.

There are areas in Peterborough that can rather hysterically be referred to as “no-go’’ areas for ordinary folk. But hasn’t that always been the case?

It certainly has in my lifetime in the cities I’ve lived in from Leeds to London, and from Cardiff to Southampton.

That fact is not an excuse for complacency. The location of this awful crime was a path on the banks of the river in the heart of the city.

And that’s not a no-go area but perhaps it is in danger of becoming one.

I sometimes cycle to work and luckily for me I can use a route that avoids all roads and takes me on a picturesque passage along the riverbank on the opposite side to where Mr Sandon was attacked.

But if I work late at this time of year when it’s dark early I no longer use the route for my journey home.

It is saying something that I reckon the risk to my personal safety is lower on busy main roads with some hostile drivers than on a pathway by the river.

Five years ago I wrote in this column that the “path along the riverside is a wonderful natural resource to the city, but is unused by many city residents and unloved, it would seem, by the authorities. With a bit of investment and some TLC it could be magical. For starters, better lighting would make it safer and more attractive. Despite its beauty it can be intimidating at times as there are often gangs of people hanging around drinking alcohol.’’

Nothing has changed in those five years and while it has hardly become a hotbed of crime, itdoesn’t feel any safer.

Richard Sandon would tell you that too.

It’s not Labour’s fault it used paedophile Andrew Palmer as an election agent for several of its candidates in Peterborough council elections. Palmer and his type are by their nature secretive and deceitful. But the party’s response to Palmer’s court case and jailing was pathetic.

Local party officials were told not to comment (top marks to councillors including John Knowles, Jo Johnson and Nazim Khan who ignored this edict) and instead referred us to the party’s East Of England spokesman. He refused to tell us what roles Palmer had in the party – about as helpful as the proverbial chocolate teapot in that case. Then, guess what, after the story was published we had another spin doctor claiming that Palmer was never an official.

Why didn’t you just say that then?

Lisa Forbes, who has been present at several Labour photo-opportunities in the city with Palmer, who even claimed to be her campaign co-ordinator, also declined to comment. She has aspirations to being the city’s next MP but if she succeeds she needs take on board the fact that she will be asked to answer questions on subject matter not of her choosing. When we contacted Lisa about Palmer she said she’d ring us back. We waited. And waited. And left messages. And waited some more. Finally after several messages she did ring back... to ask us why we kept ringing her! We finally received a statement via a regional PR person a full week after our initial call.

It was an emotionalstatement that departed Posh boss Darren Ferguson gave to the club’s website which included tribute to director of football Barry Fry.

Ferguson thanked Fry for his “help, advice and support.’’

Is this the same Barry Fry of whom Ferguson said in October 2012: “I do not like working with him. For one reason or another [Fry] is a permanent fixture at this club, so I just get on with things. I suspect he is trying to undermine me with the fans and force me to resign.If that is the case then he is going to be disappointed. He has tried these underhand tactics before.”

It’s nice that they obviously kissed and made up.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Toddler T is officially a three-nager. Her birthweek celebrations (yes, like her mum’s they weren’t confined to a single day) culminated in a party on Sunday.

She shared top billing with two of her little pals whose birthdays are around the same time.

The hall was packed with almost 40 tots each with more energy than a small power station.

A children’s entertainer was employed. Now I would have said amusing a load of tots was my worst nightmare and right up there with deep sea fishing and coal mining as occupations to avoid but it seemed like a pretty easy gig to me.

After all they didn’t have to deal with the tears and the tantrums, the bumped heads and the balloon ownership disputes, as mums and dads were on hand to dish out the hugs and yellow cards where applicable.

And I’m sure I could organise pass the parcel and play a few songs from Frozen.

Although admittedly when Toddler T serenades me for the 84th time with “Do you want to build a snowman?’’ my stock reply is: “No, Let It Go. Just LET IT GO.’’

Maybe on reflection I’m n0t cut out for life as a children’s entertainer.