In last week’s PT, I read with interest the ‘ten best read on the web’, writes Civic Society’s Toby Wood.
This was a list of those articles of most interest to those accessing the paper online.
It made fascinating reading. Posh figured twice, with articles at numbers 2 and 9. Peterborough City Council election results featured in another two stories, at numbers 3 and 7. But the most read feature was … ‘Sunday roasts near me: 10 of the best places in Peterborough for Sunday dinner as chosen by readers’.
Now I love a Sunday roast, but this is rather a statistical indictment of the fact that our citizens may be more interested in a decent meal out, rather than goings-on at London Road or at the city council.
Another statistical indicator of the state of play in the city is that, in the recent elections, there was a turnout of 30%. So 70% of those eligible to vote chose not to.
Those of us who did bother to vote will have cast our votes depending on our point of view or priorities. But perhaps therein lies part of the apathy problem. There can be a micro and macro way of looking at political issues and national and local matters can easily become conflated.
On the one hand, I may want the pothole outside my house fixed whilst simultaneously wanting the cost of living crisis sorted. And you only have to look on social media to see the blue team having a pop at the red team and vice-versa, without any acknowledgement of their own shortcomings.
Peterborough Civic Society is strictly non-political despite some of our esteemed political leaders suggesting otherwise. We want the best for our city and will query, support or criticise decisions made whatever party is in charge.
However, what we do want are sustainable, well-thought-out plans with a clear purpose and direction. Last week’s front-page story about the decision to save £50,000 by not planting up the city’s flowerbeds and hanging baskets was a case in point.
This decision seemed to come out of the blue, despite Cllr Steve Allen subsequently tweeting that “the council is looking at different ways of doing things” and that “the story was politically driven”. Cllr Allen accused PT reporter Adam Barker of it being “a no story” despite the fact that both the BBC and ITV also ran features on the subject.
Too often decisions appear to be made in a piecemeal and reactive fashion. We are perfectly aware that money is tight and the government is dictating to the council what it can and cannot spend. We have been told that the council can only afford to fund those things that are statutory. Using that logic it can reasonably be assumed that Christmas is not statutory. If that is the case, perhaps we should be talking now about how any civic tree or decorations can be funded. We don’t want to wait until the end of November before it is announced that civic Christmas has been cancelled.
Peterborough Civic Society prides itself on its ‘seeking the best for a fine city’ moniker and we, along with many Peterborians, tend to judge our immediate surroundings by the way they look. We shall continue to ask questions of whichever party is in control at the town hall. So, in the spirit of top 10 lists, here is our own current list of areas of concern:
The Embankment – Will the area be developed sensitively and to the benefit of all?
ARU Peterborough – Our new university will surely be of great benefit to the city
North Westgate – When will this blighted area see improvement?
Northminster – Concerns still exist about the size of this development
Cathedral views – Will any new developments sensitively avoid blocking cathedral views?
Climate change – How can the city prepare itself for the future?
Traffic, cycling and pedestrian management – How can the city centre be made safe and attractive?
Smart street scene avoiding clutter – How can we, and other organisations, assist the council to promote the city to both residents and visitors?
Fly-tipping – How can we encourage greater pride in our environment?
Readers may spot that I have only listed nine out of 10 priority areas. Can you provide the 10th? What is your priority for the city? Why not email the PT letters page with your own suggestion? I dare you!