Is Peterborough really a great place to live?

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
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I had a conversation with Marco Cereste a few months back in which the former leader of Peterborough City Council bemoaned residents’ downbeat and pessimistic view of the city.

In the time since that conversation several lifestyle surveys/reports have been published in which Peterborough comes out well – but if you read the comments on the PT’s website it’s clear some residents/moaning minnies are not convinced.

I confess my initial reaction to these glowing endorsements has been to raise an eyebrow or two.

Is Peterborough really such a great place to live?

The debate was brought into focus recently by one of the city’s key employers who brought together the city pluses as part of its recruitment package. Of course, BGL wants to attract people to the city (a good thing) so they are bound to focus on the positive.

I was born and brought up in Leeds. I love the city and I’m proud to be a Loiner but if I compare it to other places I’ve lived it probably wouldn’t score very highly.

My experience of the city date back 40 to 50 years when it was closer to the “beastly’’ one so despised by Charles Dickens no less, than the vibrant and prosperous city it is now.

I can see the flaws in my hometown but I’ll defend it to the hilt and I guess that underlines Marco’s point.

Peterborough has lots going for it, but like most places of 200,000 souls, it has plenty of problems.

It’s got the cathedral, Burghley House (it falls in the city council area so I’m claiming it), a revamped city centre, a great road network, a new hospital (clinically great, if financially dodgy), cheap housing, low unemployment.. and a lovely new arty Christmas tree.

On the other side of the coin, its got the Voyager, a looming shortage of GPs, too much knife crime, a rip-off brown bin charge, too many unskilled jobs, dodgy housing, a rubbish football team (only joking, Poshies) and an expensive yet tacky new Christmas tree.

As a father of two young children the big blot on Peterborough’s landscape is the exam performance of its schools. Sort that out (easier said than done) and my eyebrows will be stationary come the next positive report about the city.

My son and daughter are Peterborians and they should be proud of that... and if they’re not at least they can brag about their dad being from Leeds (who also have a rubbish football team and I’m not joking).

Cold case

We all hope (well, except the killer presumably) that the murderer of Peterborough schoolboy Rikki Neave in 1994 is finally caught and brought to justice.

You can’t fault Cambridgeshire cold case cops for effort but I was underwhelmed by their spot on BBC’s Crimewatch.

A couple of artist’s impressions drawn at the time of the original investigaton of two boys looking like they’d escaped from a storyboard for Grange Hill, didn’t suggest a breakthrough was imminent.

I hope I’m wrong.

Grassed up

I had to cut my lawn at the weekend as it was like a meadow. This is some sort of record for me as I can’t remember ever getting the mower out as late as November 22.

Who says global warming isn’t a problem?

Red light risk it

My cycle route to work involves stopping at the Bishop’s Road crossing opposite the Lido. I know of at least one serious accident that occured there, yet most days I witness at least one motorist jumping a red light.

Messing with the mosquito

Boffins in California have genetically engineered a mosquito to stop it transmitting malaria to humans. I think they should go a step further and change its DNA so that when it sees a rolled up newspaper it repeatedly flies into it until it’s unconscious.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Unprompted Toddler T gave us a breakdown of who does what in the Thornton household. Out of the blue she announced: “Mummy does the washing and feeding, I do the sticking and drawing and daddy does the sitting and relaxing.’’

You can imagine the smug look on Mrs T’s face. I cried foul. “You’ve been brainwashing her,’’ I hissed, after Toddler T and BabyT2 were safely in bed. I wouldn’t mind but it’s not even true. Okay I might do a bit of sitting... but relaxing? Never.

Take the weekend – despite my creaky knees, I have to be “horsey’’.

I find it strange that during the week looking after two children is a full-time job and a lot harder than going to work, yet at the weekend when I take over the role of children’s entertainer, mysteriously it’s not counted as “work’’.

Baby T2 is proving to be just as hard work as Toddler T albeit in different ways. I’m sure he doesn’t know what the phrase “child proof’’ means but he’s still on a mission to prove it doesn’t exist.

Standing on the door of the open dishwasher represented a new high/low in his search for new challenges.

No doubt Toddler T’s verdict will be “...and baby brother does the rock climbing and skydiving.’’