It is time to cut the clutter in Peterborough city centre

Bridge Street in Peterborough city centre
Bridge Street in Peterborough city centre

You know what it’s like – every now and again you make a promise to yourself. Sort out the stuff in the back bedroom. You’re sick of living in a tip and you know you’ll feel so much better when it’s sorted. Clutter - we all hate it, writes the Peterborough Civic Society’s Toby Wood.

And so it should be with city centre. So much time and effort has been expended recently trying to make Peterborough neat, tidy and attractive.

The new blue plaque

The new blue plaque

The list of improvements is impressive – Cowgate, the John Clare poetry area in Long Causeway, the Voice of the City art work in lower Bridge Street commemorating Henry Penn, the improvements in Cathedral Square and especially around St John’s Square. I could go on.

It is noticeable that, in most of these revitalised areas, care has being taken to ensure that there is no extraneous clutter.

Sadly, this is not the case for other parts of the city centre. Bridge Street itself is full of unrelated bits and pieces. I was there the other day and my eyes were bombarded with advertising banners and various signs, and that’s not counting the ‘pop-up’ religious organisations, businesses and charities all vying for my attention.

Then we had the threat of ten ‘trojan’ phone boxes (or yet more advertising spaces), which quite rightly have been condemned by the leader of the council, Cllr John Holdich who was quoted as being “appalled” by the plan. Thankfully, the plan has been rejected – for now. We are continuing to improve our city centre so should strongly resist daft suggestions such as this. We’ve got ‘Build the Bridge’. Now let’s have ‘Cut the Clutter’!

The new blue plaque in situ

The new blue plaque in situ

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of this year’s summer season at the Lido, one of the best preserved examples in the country. Now, whether or not you are a swimmer, one thing is certain – the Lido is one of Peterborough’s magnificent buildings. Built in 1936, it has withstood the ravages of time, Hitler and Peggy Wright (remember her?) sternly cajoling young children such as myself to swim ... or else. (There will be people reading this column recalling Peggy with a smile, grimace or perhaps both.) One thing that really struck me was the Lido’s superb condition. Not only is the water bright and sparkling but also the building itself is clean and well-kept. The paintwork was fresh and the new red, yellow and blue locker doors pristinely colourful.

The Lido has a poet in residence, Keely Mills, who last year commission the poems for the place. Parts of these now adorn the Lido walls and splendid they are too.

Please pay a visit, if only for the superb view that can be obtained from the Lido’s upper tier of the south face of the Cathedral. We in the Civic Society are prepared to criticise if necessary but, in this case, Vivacity in particular deserves praise for a job well done. Viva Lido!

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have seen yet another blue plaque has been installed – this time in Long Causeway adjacent to Boots opticians. This plaque commemorates a World War One recruiting office and has been installed by the City Council in consultation with the Civic Society.

Up high at Peterborough Lido

Up high at Peterborough Lido

Another one for the collection!