When people think of Peterborough, they tend to visualise the city: they recall the spires of our venerable Cathedral, the grand space of Cathedral Square, and the shopping in Queensgate.
The rural part of the constituency is just as important. One doesn’t have to drive far on the A47 to be amidst beautiful open fields and clear horizons.
I’ve attended events in our villages: I think they are the world capital for friendly faces, delicious cake, and perfectly made tea.
The old churches, the village greens, the golden sunlight reflected off of charming homes in the late afternoon are all enchanting.
It is a thoroughly English idea, expressed in the title of a television programme: ‘Escape to the Country’. It’s an environment that tempts me too.
But, there is another side to rural life.
Over the past few months, I’ve been visiting Eye, Thorney, and Newborough, along with my colleague, Dr Christian DeFeo.
Dr DeFeo is one of the candidates in the September 7th by-election in Eye, Thorney and Newborough.
According to people we met, there are parts of Eye, Thorney and Newborough that haven’t had a councillor visit for 15 years!
Dr DeFeo took me one evening to a part of a village where there is an unadopted road: its surface was disfigured and pockmarked with patches on top of patches, placed there when they were dug up to access pipes and electrical lines.
Some of the work had crumbled: it is hazardous for children to ride their bicycles there.
Additionally, the effects of poor planning, inadequate sewers for new development, shortages of school places, and insufficient traffic calming measures are more evident in these beautiful, tranquil rural areas.
In short, problems that exist in the city are not discarded by driving a few miles down the road.
The same issues of infrastructure and services, problems with crime and anti-social behavior, fly tipping and litter, simply don’t dissipate amidst the wildflowers.
These areas need care too: Dr DeFeo has been adamant that these problems must be solved.
I agree. Yes, we should treasure and be proud of the city: but our countryside is just as precious and just as important.
It’s time for change.