We need Peterborough justice for Peterborough people

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

Justice should not just be done it must be seen to be done. That’s a cliche that has been trotted out by many a journalist, including myself, when people, invariably criminals, complain about their name and their bad behaviour being publicised in the newspaper.

The phrase actually originates from a case in 1924 which had nothing to do with the reporting of the courts.

But open justice is something most people believe in and a key part of that is the reporting of cases up and down the land by the local media.

Recently, at the beginning of proceedings of an important and high profile Peterborough case, the judge went out of his way to say the trial should be heard in the city.

My PT colleague Stephen Briggs is a vasty experienced court reporter and these days often cuts a lonely figure on the press bench in Peterborough’s magistrates and crown courts.

His role reporting on some of the most important cases in the city has become increasingly difficult.

The latest obstacle to local open justice is that more and more Peterborough cases are being heard outside the city, usually in Cambridge, and vice versa.

The reason, presumably, is that it is more financially efficient – Cambridge Magistrates Court recently escaped by the skin of its teeth from being closed for good.

The Ministry Of Justice has been attempting to save £1 billion and court closures is one of its options.

But that comes at a heavy cost to the community, dennying it the chance to see that justice is being done locally.

Peterborough cases should be heard in Peterborough. It might save a few bob to do otherwise, but would it be worth it?

ROADS

Flowing praise

It might just be me, but does traffic flow better on the stretch of Bourges Boulevard in the city centre after the recent work?

The new access to the station car park and the accompanying traffic lights also appear to have made the ‘Queensgate’ roundabout much easier to get onto.If my experience is that of other motorists, credit to Peterborough City Council road planners. After the success of the Bishop’s Road improvements they are on a roll at the moment (er, we won’t mention the Rhubarb Bridge fiasco!).

TRANSPORT

Tree cheers

I’m a great believer in the ordinary citizen sticking it to ‘the man’, so I’m predisposed to support Robbie Reid in his battle over the route for the A47 dualling between Wansford and Sutton. He did make me chuckle when defending his protest he said: “We are not a bunch of hippy tree-huggers.’’

Robbie, even if you were, that wouldn’t be a bad thing!

EDUCATION

Economics lesson

In the latest of its looking-down-the-back-of-the-sofa-for-loose-change budgets, Peterborough City Council is planning to clamp down even harder on parents who take their kids out of school in term time.

The theory is fine, the motivation (another hidden tax) is shameful.

Does it ever occur to these pontificating politicians that the money parents have to cough up on fines could be spent on books?

If I took my eldest child out of school on the week before autumn half-term (when essentially all they do is play games) I could be fined £60.

If I used that week for a break at a well-known family holiday village it would cost me £499 making a dent in the family budget of £559.

If we went the week after, in half-term, I wouldn’t be fined but the holiday would cost me £1,549!

The council and national politicians should stop criminalising hard-working parents, and start penalising the money-grabbing businesses.

GROWTH

University challenge

What a wonderful sight it was, to see the new graduates resplendent in their gowns in the city centre.

They posed for pictures with their parents in front of the cathedral, and by the fountains, as they prepared to embark on an exciting new chapter in their own Book Of Life.

Walking past, I swear, you could feel the pride and joy radiating from the parents as their pride and joy – their son or daughter – enjoyed the pageantry of their big day. It created a real vibrancy in the city centre – more, I would suggest than another restaurant chain would.

It underlined why the city desperately needs a university, and the student population that goes with it.

It is long overdue. We have been promised we are finally getting one – even if it took an outrageous bribe in the form of support for the horrible (and now it seems shambolic) Combined Authority.

Don’t let us down.