Nigel Thornton: Any dragons in this den?

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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When is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centre not a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmetics Centre?

When it’s a young people’s skill centre, of course.

First of all well done for getting through that tortuous first paragraph. But stick with me.

The city council did much trumpeting of its plan for a Stem centre which was integral to the building of a new stand at the Posh stadium.

This is the Posh stadium that the city council bought with £8.5m of yours and my money with plans to make it a so-called “community stadium’’.

Part of that vision included building a new stand with Stem centre with another £7.5million of public money.

Many residents were unconvinced taxpayers’ money should be used to buy the ground and to support what after all is a private business albeit a special one.

But if city youngsters were going to get an educational facility that would benefit them and the city then the boast of being a “community’’ stadium had some substance.

But times and government policy have changed says the council.

The centre has just been completed yet just about the time the photo-opportunity was being set up to show off the new centre, the council was sneaking in a planning application to change the use of the building from education to business.

I say “sneaking’’ – it was on the planning list which is a public document but there was no press release, which normally accompanies good news from the council.

So what bang does the taxpayer get for his £16millin buck?

Well according to deputy council leader John Holdich the centre will be there “to support new businesses in bringing things to market and will create apprenticeships.’’

All very laudable –albeit sounding like some raggedy arsed idea that would get short shrift on Dragons’ Den – but it was supposed to be an education centre.

If the local chippy takes on a youngster to help out at busy times does that make it an education centre? It’s providing training and opportunity so I guess it does.

And how are we going to give youngsters those much-needed skills the STEM Centre was intended to provide?

Cllr Holdich added: “The University Technical College will take on the centre’s role.’’

Is this the same UTC the opening of which has been delayed for a year for no good reason?

Or at least no good reason that anybody deems worthy of sharing with the tax-paying public.

Some of you may have noticed signs urging you to vote for Conservative candidate Stewart Jackson emblazoned all over the PT’s building in Priestgate.

They have nothing to do with the PT which, as always, maintains a party political neutrality. The PT neither owns nor occupies exclusively the building and as the broadcasters used to say it is “circumstances beyond our control’’.

There was one occasion when the editorial team did urge everybody to vote by putting big signs up in the window of the building.We were supporting JLS and city lad Aston Merrygold as they battled it out on the X Factor.

They came second.

I have mixed feelings about the possibility of the Nene Park Trust extending parking charges to all the year round. The trust has to raise funds and let’s face it the places where you can park without charge are becoming fewer every year.

But when something has been free it’s always hard to accept the imposition of charges.

If charges are introduced all year round, might I suggest there are preferential rates for Peterborough folk.

I shouldn’t be surprised about how stupid some people can be, but I am.

Take the twit who rang up the East of England Ambulance Service to complain “my feet hurt after wearing too small shoes.’’

I suggest his backside should hurt after somebody has booted him with too big shoes.

The family Thornton enjoyed an early evening stroll in a sunny city centre on Saturday.

We wandered into the city’s showpiece Cathedral Square to be met with a filthy unpleasant sight. The fountains were on but this was not a time for the brochure pictures as litter was strewn about.

Shame on the anti-social halfwits who toss their waste about. But where is the street cleaning? Another victim of the cuts?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Toddlers and technology are a hot topic at Thornton Towers.

Mrs T is the traditionalist – books, the older the better, are the way forward.

But I think the sooner Toddler T gets a grasp on the latest technology the better.

So far Mrs T is winning the argument (no surprise there) although if new research from America is to be believed she’s in a minority.

Researchers in Philadelphia have revealed that babies as young as six months old are using smartphones and tots are using tablets 
before they can walk and talk.

I have to admit Toddler T does have a smart phone.

In fact it’s a very smart phone – despite having no discernible moving parts –Toddler T has been able to ring and chat to, amongst others, Peppa Pig, assorted grandparents, cousins and Father Christmas.

I suggested to Mrs T that we should have a “family’’ tablet, and there was the first sign of a break in herresistance.

“You do realise that once Toddler T gets the hang of it you’ll never get a chance to use it,’’ she cautioned.

I know this, but at least I might be able to regain control of the TVremote.

I’m not as daft as I look.