My Peterborough people of the year 2018!

It is a bit early to be taking nominations for Peterborough Person of the Year 2018 but I'm making two already.

Thursday, 4th January 2018, 12:10 pm
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -

First is Mark, the homeless man who has made the subway under the Queensgate roundabout his home.

I sometimes walk past Mark’s home on my way to work. Sometimes he’s there, laying on his cardboard mattress, sometimes he’s not. But whether he is or he isn’t it still makes me pause and remind myself to be thankful for the life I have.

Mark, at least by the benchmarks most of us judge ourselves, has nothing. But he does have one thing – and that’s his humanity.

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When a young man fell and broke his leg near his makeshift home, Mark went to his aid.

On his own and with temperatures plummeting the young man could have died.

That’s not the journalist in me sensationalising the situtation – that’s the opinion of the young man’s grateful family.

Mark gave up his blankets to keep him warm.

He literally gave everything he had to help another human being, a stranger.

Think about that the next time you read about a celebrity being rewarded in the honours list for their work for charity.

My second nomination – and in a strange way they are linked – is for council leader John Holdich.

I have often been critical of his policies and actions in this column but I have never doubted his sincerity.

His nomination is for scrapping the after meeting food and drinks for Peterborough city councillors.

The council, as all we know, is facing severe financial problems, or challenges, as they prefer to call them.

The cost of the buffets to council taxpayers was £3,000 – a drop of Chardonnay in the ocean of financial gloom.

But it is – and it’s appropriate for the time of year – the thought that counts. It would seem Cllr Holdich “gets it’’.

He said: “Every penny counts. We are in this together and we have to save money. We ask the public to do things, so we should be doing things as well.’’

He is absolutely spot on.

There was something not right about councillors tucking into canapes and quaffing wine while just yards away people like Mark were on the streets cold and hungry.

Among the many problems facing the council is the homelessness crisis in the city.

The causes of it are not of the council’s making, but it’s attempts so far to alleviate it have seen it blundering and blustering – from paying for security guards to turf people out of St Peter’s Arcade to the St Michael’s Gate debacle where people were made homeless to provide homes for the homeless!

I hope the homelessness crisis is at the top of Cllr Holdich’s agenda. If he can go some way to solving or at least alleviating it, he will be worthy of my nomination as Person Of The Year.

Mark, meanwhile has probably no need or desire for awards, but hopefully his reward is that he gets some help to make his life a little better.

Not green enough

Despite my ongoing irritation with Peterborough City Council’s “double charge’’ for brown bin collections I’m a big supporter of recycling.

Our Hungry Harry is full every week as is the green bin, while in contrast the black bin often has room to spare.

Our first post-Christmas collection was the black bin but it wasn’t full or at least it wasn’t until I transferred copious amounts of wrapping paper, packaging (and empty bottles of booze!) from our overflowing green bin.

If the city council was really serious about recycling surely it would find a way to empty everybody’s green bin in the first collection after Christmas?

Cooking good

I was interested to note that city-based Thomas Cook has revived its iconic catchphrase: Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it.

They ditched it in 1993 and brought it back from 2008 to 2013. I never knew it had gone away. I’ve never stopped using it... much to the irritation of any non-Cook travel agents we’ve been on holiday with!

Knife epidemic?

Three people in hospital after being stabbed in Gunthorpe, a 15-year-old boy seriously hurt after being knifed near Fulbridge Road recreation ground – the thugs must have got new knives for Christmas. No doubt the police will trot out the meaningless mantra of these being “isolated incidents’’.

I wonder if the next time the police and crime commissioner – who is after all the “the voice of the people’’ in these matters – has one of his chats with the chief constable he could ask: how many isolated incidents make an epidemic?

Opening doors

I know little things please little minds... but one of my favourite things of 2017 was the Queensgate Centre making all its doors automatic opening as part of its ongoing revamp.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

People often moan at this time of year about having to eat leftovers. I used to, but that was before I had kids (gosh, how many times I’ve used that phrase post-kids?).

Pre-kids the only ‘leftover’ I consumed with any enthusiasm was any glass of wine that Mrs T left unattended for a few minutes. Now eating leftovers is a way of life.

You name it – cold chicken nuggets, broken Pom Bears in the bottom of the packet, apple core – I’ll finish it off like a domesticated Bear Grylls foraging around Thornton Towers.

I suppose it’s a good thing – waste not, want not etc.– but I do wonder where I’ll draw the line.

There is a plus side. The other night with the kids safely tucked asleep in bed, I was scouting the kitchen for some nibbles. Then like a pot of gold at the end of a half-eaten rainbow I came across them – an opened, but not empty, packet of Midget Gems.

It was like Christmas had come again!