Nigel Thornton: Is anywhere safe in Peterborough?

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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After the shocking stabbing of a man walking his dog in a quiet and (until now) peaceful area of the city in broad daylight, I feel compelled to ask “Is anywhere safe in Peterborough?’’

I’m sure that question will have senior police officers choking on their corn flakes.But even by the police’s own figures (if you believe them) violent crime is on the increase in Peterborough.

Scene of a random stabbing

Scene of a random stabbing

There is often a pattern to crime but it can also be brutally random as in this case of a botched robbery which could have ended in a terrible tragedy.

A pathway at the back of Botolph Green in Orton Longueville is not the sort of place you expect to be put in fear of your life but it starkly reveals the randomness of crime.

I occasionally cycle in that area and, much more often, in similar areas on the other side of the river. I have become much more wary about doing so in the past few years and I don’t think it is because I have got more timid. Groups of men drinking alcohol are a fairly common sight and are quite clearly intimidating even if their intentions are no more than to dull their senses with extra strength lager.

In the several years that I have been biking there I have never once seen a police officer nor a PCSO.

For that I do not blame the police – their resources are limited and they can hardly be expected to patrol leafy riverbanks when getting enough officers to cover the city centre on a Saturday night is a tough enough ask.

So, I will answer my own question is anywhere safe in Peterborough? No –but that has always been and always will be the case.

The real problem comes when too many places in the city are not safe enough.

Among all the post election too-ing and fro-ing at Peterborough City Council you might have missed the story that the council is to increase grass cutting after reducing it in the last round of budget savings.

Correct me if I’m wrong but that means the council has cut the cuts to the cutting.

First Tom Watson, then Yvette Cooper, it would seem Labour’s big hitters are queueing up to visit Peterborough. Has it not occurred to anyone that if they had visited the city before the election Labour candidate Lisa Forbes might have been victorious? She did after all cut Stewart Jackson’s majority to under 2,000 without their help.

New city council leader John Holdich wants better enforcement of the Bridge Street cycling ban. Better? How about any?

I walked down Bridge Street on Friday lunchtime. In that time I counted nine cyclists – all riding and none pushing their bikes. On the way back it was 5-0 to the rule breakers. And there wasn’t an enforcer in sight.

While I’m far from convinced that the NHS is safe with the Tories I’m in favour of health minister Jeremy Hunt’s bid to cut costs, particularly management salaries.

Trusts wanting to pay managers more than the £142,500 salary of the Prime Minister will have to write to Mr Hunt explaining why they think the move is justified.

It’s a shame this wasn’t done sooner as I’d have loved to have see the letter Peterborough & Stamford Hospital would have had to have written to justify the £405,000 it paid former chief executive Dr Peter Reading in 2013/2014.

To be fair they did justify it at the time.

Who can forget that classic line that he worked an average of four days a week, often working long hours in excess of 9am to 5pm.

I’m sure Mr Hunt would have rubber-stamped that.

As some of you will be aware I went down to London recently to interview MP Stewart Jackson. I found myself with a spare half hour and decided to fill the time with a spot of sightseeing. I strolled along from the Houses of Parliament to Trafalgar Square. On the way I went past the Cabinet Office. Now I’m sure that inside security is tight but outside there were just two middle- aged woman wearing high-viz jackets with the word SECURITY written on the back ­ I’ve seen more security at a village show.It was worrying but in a weird way,reassuring.

I don’t understand all this fuss over the winner of Britain’s Got Talent using a stunt dog double in her act. The real scandal is that a dog is the most talented act we Brits can come up with.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. My best pal as a ladwas my Labrador Caesar. I taught him a few tricks the best of which was getting him to remove my bobble hat. This was all well and good until a neighbour accompanied by her toddler knocked on our door.Spotting the boy’s hat my friendly but large dog promptly jumped up, put his paws on the toddler’s shoulders and knocked him to the floor before triumphantly whipping off his hat. I often wonder if that poor kid ever recovered.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Even when I was a kid, I was never a big fan of jigsaws. So when Toddler T got her first one I decided jigsaws came under mum’s jurisdiction. Particularly as it was a Frozen one (we’ve so much Frozen themed-stuff, I’m surprised I’m not wearing Olaf underpants). Actually it was four jigsaws increasing in difficulty from 50 to 100 pieces.

Early one morning (it was early, it could have been any morning) Toddler T decided it was jigsaw time. It was soon pretty clear her involvement was not going to involve much more than her tipping out the pieces, putting her little hands on her little hips and waiting for daddy to piece it all together. The first one was a breeze, and so was the second although annoyingly there was a piece missing.The third was a bit more tricky not least because it had four pieces missing.The last took me ages and when I’d finally finished I was in a bad mood with a thumping headache. This one had six pieces missing.

Toddler T had lost interest long ago, then Mrs T appeared. She was outraged that the pieces were missing and was all for marching straight to the shop in her jim-jams. It was a good job she didn’t. A few hours later I found the missing pieces in the trousers of Toddler T’s teddy Luciano.

I wonder who put them there?