Future of Millfield and New England ‘brighter than it’s been for years’

Brian Gascoyne  EMN-170301-163601009
Brian Gascoyne EMN-170301-163601009
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Traffic, littering and overcrowding are some of the issues frequently associated with Millfield and New England.

And despite improvements over the last decade much more is needed to be done according to Brian Gascoyne, outgoing chair of the Millfield and New England Regeneration Partnership (MANERP).

Investiture of the British Empire Medal by Sir Hugh Duberly, Lord Lieutenant of Cambs at the Town Hall to Brian Gascoyne EMN-170327-230344009

Investiture of the British Empire Medal by Sir Hugh Duberly, Lord Lieutenant of Cambs at the Town Hall to Brian Gascoyne EMN-170327-230344009

In a forceful interview ahead of his final meeting as chair tonight, Mr Gascoyne takes aim at the politicians and organisations who he believes have not done enough to tackle problems in the area.

He also addressed the topic of traffic which he said is particularly an issue in Lincoln Road.

This is not helped by the fact that bus company Stagecoach has a station in Lincoln Road. He said: “There is massive congestion in the Millfield area, particularly in the evenings.

“I would like to see part of Lincoln Road pedestrianised from Windmill Street to Oxford Road, and I would like to see the bus station made into a car park to take some of the problems off the road.”

Turning to littering, he says: “Penalties should be much more severe. And I would like to see more enforcement.”

Mr Gascoyne, who now lives in Yaxley, celebrated his 70th birthday this week, but health issues have forced him to stand down as MANERP chair after 13 year, freeing him up to give a forthright assessment of MANERP’s challenges and successes during his tenure.

“I agreed to do it for a few months and, as is usually the case with these things, it ended up taking over my life. But I’m quite happy with what we’ve achieved in my time as chair,” he stated.

“The future of Millfield and New England is brighter than it has been for years. Improvements have been slow but I’m very positive.”

Mr Gascoyne highlights the introduction of Selective Licensing – a landlord licensing scheme designed to ensure all residents lived in safe accommodation – as a positive policy which MANERP helped to push through, despite opposition.

His time as chair has also coincided with a high number of Eastern Europeans who moving into the area.

He added: “At the turn of the Millennium, we found because the area has been considered a dispersal area and a lot of people took advantage of that, we had severe overcrowding.

“The influx of probably 114 languages presented us with some problems, but we worked through them.”

Councillors are ‘talk but no action’

Brian Gascoyne did not hold back when speaking about Peterborough city councillors.

Without naming individuals, or political parties, Mr Gascoyne complained a lack of action had prevented Millfield and New England from progressing as fast as it could have.

He said: “Vested interests have prevented Millfield and New England from developing. There’s very little in the way of co-operation between councillors. I don’t mean necessarily from any particular political party.

“There’s a great deal of talk but very little action. There are only one or two councillors who apart from the AGMs come to MANERP meetings.

“I worked very closely with the council but not councillors. Some councillors need to look deeply at what they are actually doing for the community, rather than serving their own self-interests.

“They should get off their backsides and start working together. I feel bitter about it. I have had lip service from councillors and little else, but that’s not all councillors.

“Despite all that we managed to get Selective Licensing through despite bitter opposition.”

Mr Gascoyne was recognised for his community service just over 18 months ago when he was awarded a British Empire Medal in the traditional New Year’s Honours. He is also chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Committee, is a prominent campaigner for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights and used to be landlord for several city pubs.

Money not spent

A budget of £7.5 million for the regeneration of Millfield and New England has yet to be touched.

The money was assigned by Peterborough City Council last year as part of its budget proposals for 2017/18.

The plans were broadly welcomed at the time, with leading community figures calling for urgency in getting the money spent.

However, 16 months after the money was voted through by the Conservative-run council, nothing has yet been spent, with working groups currently deciding how best to make use of the investment.

Asked for an update on the money, a spokesman for the council said: “We have set up an executive board and working groups that are developing plans on exactly how the funds will be spent.

“The money will be spent on three aspects in New England, Gladstone and Millfield. These are parks and open spaces, community facilities and the public realm along Lincoln Road.”