Opinion: ‘Peterborough is my priority despite new role’

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

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 19th February 2022, 2:15 pm
The Key Theatre.
The Key Theatre.

Some jobs have fancy titles. Westminster has plenty of those, like the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, who used to keep a piece of wax in a bag.

These days she is also Natalie Evans and the Leader of the House of Lords.

Other Westminster titles aren’t fancy, just incomprehensible.

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This week, I became a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to a cabinet minister.

That doesn’t mean I am a typist.

Basically, I’m there to pick up Parliamentary odds-and-ends on matters ‘digital’ or anything related to culture, media and sport. I liaise between MPs and the secretary of state.

Being this city’s MP is my main job and always will be.

I am a big fan of what the Government is doing at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Our city’s theatres and cultural venues have now received more than £2 million from the Culture Recovery Fund.

It’s the crucial context for the effort to save the Key Theatre. I have worked really hard with the city council and Sellador, over many weeks. Without the funding available, we wouldn’t be talking about a solution.

In short, I said ‘yes’ to being a PPS because this Government has been great for Peterborough.

Just look at the £59 million of investment in our city centre regeneration and the new university. And look at the purpose of that funding.

The idea isn’t to throw money at our future and see what it buys.

There is never enough money – or rather taxpayers’ money – for that to work.

The idea is to kick start a process with businesses and organisations, with people and partners.

It’s about the first step in making the vision real. I try not to repeat myself too often, but I want to quote something I wrote in this column last year:

“There are threats to this vision,” I wrote. “My biggest fear is a change of administration at Peterborough City Council. We need to keep our council Conservative to make the vision a reality.

“A coalition of chaos formed of Greens, the Lib Dems and the very left-wing Peterborough Labour Party is the alternative.

“They are all obsessed with looney ideas like renaming Gladstone Street and keener on protests than regeneration.”

And guess what the Labour Party were up to this week.

Yes, you’ve guessed it... organising another poorly attended protest in Cathedral Square.

So poorly attended, in fact, that I knew nothing about it despite being only two streets away with my family.

That fear was avoided in May 2021. Our local Peterborough Conservatives actually made some gains, including breakthroughs in Dogsthorpe and Gunthorpe.

Yet Peterborough City Council remains in ‘no overall control’.

No single party has a majority. And the plotting for a coalition of chaos remains very much alive.

But like last year, I am sure the people of Peterborough will again reject this dangerous path.