Diving into devolution deal is a mistake

Anyone working in local government for the past few years can be forgiven for getting excited at the prospect of getting more funding. Times have been hard with central government slashing budgets of local councils.

Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:03 pm
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Central government, or should I call it the Bogeyman, has now come up with an initiative/bribe that would allegedly see more money heading into Peterborough’s coffers. And, yes, you might ask, how, in these times of austerity is that money suddenly available? Wherever it’s been magic-ed from there is a price to pay for this “generosity’’.

Not satisfied with foisting on us an elected yet unloved police and crime commissioner, it now wants us to have an elected mayor for Cambridgeshire to include little old Peterborough.

But this mayor won’t be a smiling city stalwart who lets schoolchildren try on his chain of office or jump in the Lido (fully clothed this year!).This one will wield significant powers and control a barrel-load of public money.

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City council leader John Holdich seems cockahoop and claims it is “the best devolution deal in the country’’ and that there is “absolutely no chance’’ of the city council being swallowed up by Cambridgeshire County Council. Even though the councils already share a chief executive!

I have my doubts – the big fear and we’ve seen it with the police commissioner – is that the city will once more have to play second fiddle to handsome older brother Cambridge. For those whose memory is better than a goldfish that’s the key reason Peterborough wanted to split from Cambridgeshire in the first place.

So, where do you think the new mayor will base his office(and, no doubt, a squadron of well-paid underlings)? Dogsthorpe?Or will it be the dreaming spires of Cambridge, or at least somewhere handy?

I’ll take a punt and go for the latter.

Congestion charge

I bike to and from work most days but last week I had to rely on my car for a couple of days.

I’d forgotten the home-time horror that is Cowgate.

What annoys me is that this daily jam has been caused by the city council’s “improvements’’.

I think they thought they were being clever and attempting to “design’’ out traffic by altering the road lay-out, in particular the exit to Queensgate roundabout.

But all they’ve succeeded in doing is designing in congestion.

Don’t cross me

Mind you, biking to work has its downside especially if you have to use the Bishop’s Road pedestrian crossing. I witnessed yet another idiot sailing through a red light.

I don’t know why the authorities don’t act, given several serious accidents have happened here. Oh, actually I do know... austerity, cuts, we can’t afford to monitor every crossing in the city, blah, blah, blah.

Let me think outside the box for them. Install cameras and put up a sign saying: “If you see a vehicle going through a red light call this number stating the date and time.’’

Operator can check footage and if driver is guilty issue a penalty notice. Job done.

Life of Bryan

I’m not a fan of Canadian rocker Bryan Adams but I’m glad he’s coming to Peterborough soon to headline a big concert as the city gets precious few visits from the big names of music.

At one of the PT’s daily news conferences this week it was mentioned that there might be a chance of a Q&A with him for the paper.

“What shall we ask him?’’ someone said. Silence. Then a voice deadpanned: “How about ‘Why is it you do, everything you do’?’’

I’m afraid the conference had to be abandonded after it degenerated into a collective fit of giggles.

Although judging from this picture of Brian and Pamela Anderson he’s probably had the last laugh.

In or out

I finally decided how to cast my vote in today’s EU referendum.

Key to it was realising that voting to remain or leave was not the same as voting to join or not.

I also looked at the Remain and Leave supporters and decided who I would least like to be trapped in a lift with.

Not the most intellectually rigorous way to decide how to vote, but it worked for me.

Still in Europe

Now Ashley Cole and John Terry are no longer selected I find it a lot easier to cheer England on. Or I did until I had to sit through the Slovakia game. I’ve never witnessed 90 minutes where a team was so dominant yet so poor. Talk about frustrating.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I returned home from work last Thursday in decent spirits after England had beaten Wales. But I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me. My son was charging round the house wearing only a pair of blue shorts, shouting at the top of his voice and beating his bare chest.

“Has he been watching the football?’’ I asked Mrs T.

All that was missing was a can of lager and a St George’s flag draped around his shoulders and he’d have made the perfect mini-hooligan.

Talking of hooligans... Toddler T didn’t cover herself in glory but did cover herself in one of our lounge curtains. She told mum she’d fallen and grabbed it to try keep her balance but sent it crashing to the floor. Mrs T imparted the discipline, although telling her “you mustn’t swing on the curtains’’ seemed a bit pointless to me. Toddler T got top marks for fessing up but was suitably subdued. By the time I’d returned from work she was back to her usual self. “Tell me what happened with the curtain, darling,’’ I asked trying to be stern without being scary.

“It wasn’t me, it was the Jertain in the curtain,’’ she grinned. Said Jertain appears in one of our favourite bedtime stories Dr Seuss’s There’s A Wocket In My Pocket. I’m afraid I laughed. Mrs T, not the first time, was not impressed with me.