Opinion: ‘Let’s have some positivity in Peterborough’

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 2:15 pm
It's cool to be kind Photo: Shutterstock EMN-210505-100909001

When I think of Peterborough, I think of a confident city well placed to take advantage of opportunity.

The university will inject energy into our nightlife and create the potential for lots of new businesses and ventures. Companies are relocating to Peterborough, creating new jobs. And soon young people will be offered an exciting future through practical based T Levels which will open doors for careers in engineering and manufacturing.

But it is the people of Peterborough themselves who give me the most hope for the future. The young people I met last week who are undertaking their National Citizen Service (NCS). These 16 and 17-year-olds are designing social action schemes to tackle period poverty in our city. They want to make sure women and girls are not being denied menstruation products because of stigma or poverty. They are also volunteering in care homes and doing their best to combat loneliness in old age. They inspire me.

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The young couple I met last week in Eye. They have just had twins and Alison is running her own occupational therapy business helping children and young adults. Her partner has supported her through the pandemic and their love for each other, their family and their clients shone through.

These are good people doing good things.

I was also heartened by those who organised the Central Park Music Festival. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and again I applaud those who take a risk and try to do something positive in Peterborough.

And again how our city is coming together to support our own Afghan and Hazara communities who are going through so much. They are worried about their family and friends as the barbaric Taliban have grasped control of that country. I organised a meeting that brought together Peterborough Citizens, the city council, PARCA and others to co-ordinate those who wish to help.

Despite this can do attitude – and potential for the future – a damaging and 
negative cynicism sometimes lurks beneath. And it usually lurks on social media.

I don’t mind people posting unkind things about me on Facebook and Twitter. I am an MP and deserve scrutiny and a bit of stick (good humoured and not) even those who target my family don’t overly concern me. Most people reading these comments will think those being unpleasant are pretty unpleasant themselves.

But what does upset me is when they go after good people doing good things. This has happened since the day I got this job, but I have really only seen the scale of it recently. People trying to make a difference, setting up new businesses, trying new things, volunteering and mentoring. Spend five minutes on social media and you will see someone griping or trying to mock their efforts. Not everyone can simply ignore it. Online trolling and abuse does have an affect. And it’s nasty.

What amazes me, is who it comes from. Click on the profiles of those being unkind, and some will be former city councillors, teachers and professional people. And curiously enough they think they are the good guys. But they are dashing hope and smashing dreams.

So let’s be a little kinder. A little more supportive of those who do things and make a difference.

Empathy and understanding shouldn’t be difficult.

Most of all, let’s be positive about Peterborough.

Criticising your city isn’t big or clever. I am not blind to our problems but there is nothing wrong with a bit of city pride.

A man I met last week said that I am too positive about Peterborough. But you can never be too positive about a place you love.

A place that you want to be all it can be. Our potential is there for everyone to see.