Small steps can make a difference

A churned up  grass verge
A churned up grass verge

Quality of life matters to people. There are huge national and international problems and dilemmas which hang over us like storm clouds, whether that be Brexit, global warming, migration or poverty, writes Toby Wood from the Peterborough Civic Society.

Although in the big scheme of things we might feel individually powerless, there are behaviours that we can adopt to play our part in improving our world – taking more exercise, using the car just a little less, making sure we recycle more – all these are small steps for mankind in our own little worlds.

My grandson recently stopped off in Singapore and was impressed at how clean the city-state is. In particular he noted that the streets were completely free from discarded chewing gum. Gum is banned in Singapore and the penalties for selling it are severe (up to two years imprisonment).

Now there’s a thought – making chewing gum (or the careless discarding of it) illegal and punishable by transportation. But hang on a minute – the city Council does have the power to impose on-the-spot fines of £75 for those who drop gum and other litter on the city’s streets. Yet still people discard gum, still there is the need for enforcement, and still people get caught!

The quality of life for the citizens in Peterborough would improve significantly if we all did things with just a little more care and consideration. Many of our local councillors, and their supporters, spend their own time patrolling the streets and collecting rubbish and alerting the authorities to fly-tipping. And then there is the issue of parking on pavements and grass verges. As the council themselves state – ‘in some areas of the city parking on grass verges or pavements is a persistent problem as it can reduce the verge to an unsightly state and cause damage to pavements. It can also obstruct the highway preventing pedestrians and wheelchair users from accessing roads and footways if there is no other pathway. Verge parking can also cause a hazard to other motorists especially if the vehicle is parked on a bend, narrow road or junction and could prevent emergency vehicles from attending an incident’.

This is a live issue that the Civic Society is taking very seriously. From July 2018 the council put in place a verge and pavement parking policy whereby a Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting parking on verges and pavements can be activated locally.

As the council state on their website – ‘in areas where there is currently no restriction on parking on the verges or pavement residents can request one for the area they live by contacting the council. Residents may not request one for streets in which they do not live’. So, if you feel that this is an issue for your area, contact the council directly. Let’s tackle this problem head on!

We must be encouraged to change our bad habits. I for one was very sceptical about how the smoking ban (introduced just over ten years ago) was to be enforced. I thought that there would be widespread civil disobedience. I was wrong. Grown men skulked outside into the rain to huddle obediently in makeshift smoking shelters. We all learned to adapt very quickly. And so it should now be with the anti-social behaviours as outlined above.

Persistent anti-social behaviour will result in being taken to Cathedral Square to be placed on the council’s new gibbet. Now there’s a thought!