NIGEL THORNTON: Bridge Street needs a big idea

There are so many beggars down Bridge Street these days that even the cyclists are complaining!

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 11:43 am
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -

Bridge Street one of the city’s oldest and most important trading streets is struggling and the only business that is booming is begging .

The closure of the Marks & Spencer and Mothercare stores have left a huge hole in the street’s attraction to shoppers.

You can’t accuse Peterborough City Council of not doing all it can to revive the street’s fortunes.

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From enticing TK Maxx with a £175,000 grant to the extensive public realm work, a lot of public money has been thrown at it.

Yet the twin pronged attack of the internet and multi-outlet shopping centres have left traditional retail streets struggling.

Peterborough city centre is doing much better than other comparable places mainly due to the influx of restaurants, cafes and bars attracted by the revamped surroundings in the heart of the city.

But there must be a finite number of restauarants the city centre can sustain filling the empty units in Bridge Street.

The plans to revamp Queensgate shopping centre and to build another at North Westgate might be mired in controversy over the respective multi-plex cinemas but suggests investors believe there is still juice to be squeezed out of Peterborough’s retail orange.

But those investors are clearly not interested in the traditional High Street.

The town hall is of course the centrepiece of Bridge Street, but the council is planning to move many of its staff who work there to the Fletton Quays development.

I’m not sure that will help Bridge Street as it will lose the lunchtime trade from council staff.

So what can be done to give Bridge Street a new lease of life? Turn the town hall into a homeless hostel and build a velodrome?

Excuse my flippancy, but somebody needs to come up with a big idea.

Do your nut

There was a lot of excitement in some quarters (although not at my local Weightwatchers club) over the announcement that “doughnut giant’’ Krispy Kreme was opening a restaurant in Hampton.

Judith Denby was certainly very excited.

To be fair she is the company’s chief marketing officer so I suppose she has no choice.

She enthused: “Our Hotlight stores provide the ultimate way for doughnut lovers to experience the joy and excitement of Krispy Kreme.’’

I enjoy a doughnut as much as the next lard**** but joy and excitement might just be overstating it a teeny bit.

Down town

A recent survey claimed men who live in Spalding are the grumpiest in the country.

I began my journalism career in that Lincolnshire town and I was quite happy for the most part, although that flower parade did get on my nerves and after one particularly never-ending meeting of Sutton Bridge Parish Council I did contemplate chucking myself in the Welland.

Anyway I don’t live there now so I can’t be blamed for the survey result.

But I was a bit disconcerted to read that the second grumpiest place in the country was the London borough of Greenford... where I also used to live!

On track

I’m not a big fan of train travel – I prefer the door to door convenience of my car – but it is remarkable that the journey time from Peterborough to London will be reduced to 40 minutes when Virgin’s new fleet of Azuma trains come into service.

There will also be quicker journey times to Bradford and Middlesbrough although even as a Yorkie I’m not particularly thrilled about that.

Fans 0, Money 1

Congratulations to the football authorities with their latest assault on the magic of our national game.

Not content with destroying the sanctity of the 3pm Saturday kick off and the FA Cup, they’ve now disposed of the traditional Easter double-header for pointless international friendlies.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I don’t suppose I’m the only parent of young children who frets about how they are going to cope when they’re all grown up and out there in the big bad (and it seems to be getting, er, badder) world.

Toddler T’s naivety is so heartwarming she could light up the national grid. And while the last thing I want is for her to grow up too quickly, I’m hoping she’ll develop some street smarts.

Perhaps I worry too much – of course I do, I’m her dad – and while I want to equip her with skills for life sometimes I think it would be easier and more effective to equip her with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

I was then (probably inappropriately) delighted at her comments when we were having her bedtime story. I started reading Goldilocks And The Three Bears when Toddler T interrupted me.

“Goldilocks is like a burglar, isn’t she daddy?’’ she said.

“Er, yes, I suppose she is,’’ I replied slightly taken aback but impressed at her knowledge and application of section 9 of the 1968 Theft Act.

The only slight drawback was that she didn’t appear to think that the “burglar’’ was doing much wrong.

Perhaps I can add defence lawyer to her career options.