Toby Wood, Peterborough Civic Society:
A couple of weeks ago Peterborough Conservatives announced Paul Bristow as their candidate for the next parliamentary election, whenever that might be. Almost immediately he announced ‘a new campaign’ #proudofpeterborough.
Peterborough Civic Society already knows what our priorities might be if we were (heaven forbid!) a political party.
The Society’s long-standing aims are to campaign to influence the public authorities and other agents of change to:
Promote good design;
Encourage an imaginative approach to the city’s future;
Value and care for the local heritage of buildings and other features;
Promote local knowledge and pride of place.
Here are ten headings that encompass what we in the Civic Society consider to be essential for Peterborough’s continued growth and which might form a manifesto.
Housing – perhaps the issue that, in the long term, will define the quality of life for Peterborians.
Both local and national government needs to create the economic climate for high quality public housing to be built and maintained. Only then will communities be built containing individuals and families who can be proud of where they live.
High quality design and architecture – our built environment should look good and be planned, designed and built by people who care about local needs as opposed to corporate demands.
City centre rejuvenation – a current and very pressing problem. Fletton Quays is certainly on the right track. North Westgate and the city centre now need urgent solutions to improve the quality of life for both Peterborians and visitors.
High quality transport systems – this includes a number of wide-ranging aspirations, whether that be efficient road and rail systems in the four directions into and out of the city and to other parts of the UK; easily navigable routes around the city and simple city centre solutions that make it easy for pedestrians and cyclists to co-exist whilst taking priority over the motor car.
Jobs – Peterborough is rapidly becoming the warehouse-logistics capital of the east and, whilst it is important that these jobs keep the economy going, the city must attract skilled jobs and more highly skilled workers.
University and higher education – for too long much has been talked about and little appears to have happened. Inspirational leadership is needed to drive this forward successfully, otherwise we may view the whole project as just another hollow aspiration.
Care for the environment – our neighbourhoods are too often blighted by fly-tipping, lack of maintenance and neglect. We need to create a culture of care and civic pride. Only then will we have the confidence and courage to build successful communities.
Celebrating the past – Peterborough has so many things to celebrate and not take for granted, whether that be the cathedral, Ferry Meadows, its people and heritage. Let’s learn from what makes them successful.
Praising the present – we should encourage people to take an interest in all things civic, whether that be what the council does, the way the city looks, promoting cultural events or praising how people, landscapes and buildings are treated. We should thank those who accentuate the positive and call to account those who are negative and uncivil.
Planning for the future – although the Council is preparing a new local plan we must continue to monitor, support and where necessary challenge if we are serious about making Peterborough a better place to live and work.
So there you have it. Vote Peterborough Civic Society - you know it makes sense!