Travelling rights and wrongs

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

A few weeks back Gary Goose, head of community services at Peterborough City Council called for some ‘myth-busting’ regarding the travelling community in the city.

He pointed out that while some left a mess behind they were no worse than residents who dump rubbish on the street.

He is absolutely right and I agree with him.

Residents in Stanground might not.

They have been left shocked and dismayed at the mess left behind by an illegal camp of travellers.

Mr Goose said: “If you are aware of the amount of fly-tipping reports we get from the non-traveller community, I would ask ‘what is the difference’?’’

The difference is in the response of the authorities.

The council makes a lot of noise about its desire to punish fly-tippers and on the odd occasion they nick somebody they trumpet it.

Clearly many fly-tippers get away with it –including those who have left mess at travellers’ sites.

But I can’t remember the city council ever prosecuting anybody in connection with the rubbish left at illegal camps.

And come to that I can’t recall the police prosecuting anybody when there are cases of criminal damage or other illegal activities.

The authorities need to be very careful with this softly softly approach as they risk creating the climate in which vigilantism might thrive.

That would benefit no-one not least the responsible members of the travelling community who do not leave a trail of destruction behind them.

Nobody is saying this is an easy nut to crack - but just because something is difficult isn’t a reason not to tackle it.

I think one myth many city residents, and particularly those in Stanground would like busting, is that the authorities are not taking this problem seriously enough. That’s assuming it is a myth.

Park life plea

I was really pleased to see Stewart Jackson in his PT column last week championing a plan by Nene Park Trust to develop riverside land between the rowing lake and the city centre into Thorpe Meadows Gateway Park.

Back in2009 I wrote about the area in this column.I said: “It 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.

“Improved signage and better maintenance of hedges and paths would all give the area a lift.

I concluded: “A little imagination and a bit of money could make a big difference.’’

I just hope the plans for the area don’t take as long to come to fruition as the ones to develop the South Bank (sorry, Fletton Quays) have.

Peterborough man does well

The good people of Helpston have been celebrating the efforts of their most famous resident as you can see above. The picture of the poster popped up on Twitter feeds including that of Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson, who didn’t seem too impressed. He commented: “Helpston? He’s from Eye!’’

Indeed he is and Eye, of course, is in Mr Jackson’s constituency but Louis now lives in Helpston and that makes him a constituent of Mr Jackson’s neighbour and Tory colleague Shailesh Vara.

I think that’s the gold for Mr Vara!

Diary Of A Bad Dad

With the countdown on to Pre-schooler T’s first day at school, we’ve seen a change in her sleep habits. As a baby she was a terrible sleeper and although thankfully she has grown out of that she’s always been an early riser.

Any time after 7am counts as a lie-in at Thornton Towers and normally we hear the patter of her tiny feet in our bedroom any time after 6am.

She appears, usually in full princess costume after delving into her dressing up box. I’m probably the onlyperson on the planet who has nightmares about Ariel, Rapunzel, Anna and Elsa and other assorted Disney princesses. But you try waking from a deep sleep to be confronted by Snow White... I’m sleepy then dopey and finally grumpy.

But now Toddler T has decided to get up later, so much so that I’ve had to dig out the alarm clock. I’d been looking forward to the day when I could get my own back and wake her up, I’ve just got to find my Superman costume now.