Nigel Thornton: The trouble with Long Causeway

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

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The city council has a bit of a patchy record when it comes to using consultants. Plenty of people would claim the council had wasted millions of pounds of tax-payers’ hard earned for the advice of some highly paid experts.

They should consult with me. Not least because I’m so cheap, I’m free.

And they should have consulted with me when they planned the improvements for Long Causeway.

Because in one small but very significant way they have got it wrong. Badly wrong.

They have placed the bins too close to the seats.

Seriously, who wants to sit on a bench and have somebody walk up beside them and stub out a cigarette inches from their head, or to empty the smelly remnants of their fast food meal?

Public spirited as I am, I shared this observation after I saw where the bins had been located in Bridge Street.

I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but a little bit of me hoped that a little lightbulb might have gone on over the head of somebody at the council and they wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

And when the scheme for Long Causeway was presented, someone might have said to the public realm planner: “Very nice mate, but think again.’’

I blame the institutionislied arrogance of the planners and architects.

When they are sitting on their patio enjoying a Pimms on a summer’s day, do they place their garden chair next to their wheely bin?

Of course they don’t. So why do they put bins next to seats?

I know the answer. It all looks very neat when you’re drawing a plan on a piece of paper.

But the benches and bins don’t exist on paper and neither does the debris of fast food meals and fag ends.

News of the £30m revamp of Queensgate, complete with cinema and restaurants came as a bit of a bolt from the blue albeit a long overdue one. It felt like a pre-emptive strike on the recently resuscitated North Westgate plans that also feature a cinema and restaurants. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out but you can’t help but think this might be a significant blow to the North Westgate scheme. If it is, the development will go down as one of the most unlucky (if developments can be unlucky!) with everything from global recession to real ale drinkers uniting to put obstacles in its way.

There was an hilarious press release from the Highways Agency regarding the new A47 traffic lights at the A1 junction.

I say hilarious although I realise that for those of you who have had weeks of man-made traffic jam misery, it’s no laughing matter.

The so-called “intelligent’’ traffic lights have snarled up traffic leaving drivers furious and fed-up.

Now the lights are going to be partially turned off in a bid to ease the queues.

Where’s the funny bit, I hear you ask? It’s where they say: “We would like to apologise for any delays motorists have experienced and thank them for their patience while (my italics) we continue to improve traffic flow.’’

Continue to? Are they really claiming that so far their actions have improved traffic flow?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Meet Pargeter, or you can call her Parge or Pargy if you like.

Parge is Toddler T’s favourite toy and has been since back in the day when she was just Baby T. She’s a transgender toy, born a boy until Toddler T decided he was a she. Pargy has a very special place in our household, and I guard her with my life. The thought of losing Pargy fills me with dread even though Mrs T, aware of Pargy’s importance, sourced a duplicate Parge from t’internet which is now squirrelled away in my sock drawer. Hopefully, we will never have to call Pargy 2 from the subs bench and I’ve taken the (not universally popular) step of barring Parge 1 from ever leaving the house, but there have been security breaches. And anyway toddlers can easily lose stuff in their own home. Which is just what happened at 4am last Tuesday. A distressed Toddler T woke me up with words that sent a chill down my spine: “I can’t find Pargy.’’

I found her half an hour later but those 30 minutes knocked years of my life.