Mayor must make right decision

Democracy is all well and good, but sometimes I feel like we could do with a spot of dictatorship to ensure that things get done.

Saturday, 8th July 2017, 3:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:37 am
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host -

I am not for one minute advocating the overthrow of our present system in favour of a Gaddafi - style regime, but there are times when it stifles progress, gets in the way and drives you mad with frustration.

You know the feeling, when you scream at the telly, shouting why! Or when people dilly and dally over a decision that needed making hours ago – I mean, it was obvious in the first place wasn’t it?

Of course, there are different levels of democracy; in our house, like any others, equality of decision making appears to occur, but it is a façade that is only maintained by my eventual compliance with my wife’s every wish. This I call the quiet life consensus.

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In my day job at the BBC I employ a similar system of apparent fairness, where everyone’s views are expressed, listened to, and then adapted to fit with what was obviously the right thing to do in the first place, as decided by me. I call this the Brian Clough method.

I sincerely hope that a similar approach will be employed by the new Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James ‘the Milkman’ Palmer, when it comes to deciding on the site for Peterborough’s brand, spanking, new university.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right for the city’s future, and those voices that want the campus placed outside of the city need to be listened to, reasoned with, and then completely ignored.

Personally, I would like to see the main building put on North Westgate, slap bang in the middle of the city, thus killing two birds with one stone.

That site has been the elephant in this city’s room for as long as I can remember, a dirty great slice of derelict land at the beating heart of what is one of the most vibrant places in the country.

Building on and around the Embankment isn’t a bad idea either; perhaps the two sites could eventually be combined as the university grows in stature and size.

It cannot go anywhere else but in the centre, it would be best for the students, best for business, and best for Peterborough.

Get this right and this city will benefit from the decision for years to come; not only will it prevent our young brains departing elsewhere it will also bring in much needed revenue and provide a ready-made, educated pool of talent for local business.

The new university must be an attractive proposition for all, and that includes those that we are hoping to attract to study here.

You only need travel 50 miles up the A15 to see the benefits that a centrally based university can bring to a city – Lincoln’s bustling streets and thriving nightlife are testament to that.

However, there is much competition for these juvenile economy drivers and Peterborough is playing catch up, so it is imperative that the right decision is made.

I do not care whether that decision is a democratic or an autocratic one, just so long as it is the right one for Peterborough. Over to you James.