Why city must have its own voice

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Call me old fashioned, but if I employ somebody to bang a drum for me Monday to Friday, I don’t want them playing the cymbals for somebody else at the weekend.

You are either part of team Stainton or you are not, you cannot give 100% to my cause if you have other interests.

Just imagine the boss of M&S going part time and selling under crackers for Debenhams on a Tuesday and Thursday or Sir Alex Ferguson lending the blue half of Manchester his famous “hair dryer” from time to time.

It just wouldn’t happen because to be successful, you need to be totally committed, selfish and ready to bleed for one master.

That is why the decision to allow Gillian Beasley to job share her role of Chief Executive with Cambridgeshire County Council is such a huge gamble for this city.

There is no doubt in my mind that she is a terrific operator and has been one of the main reasons that Peterborough has bucked the trend and continued to grow in such difficult times.

That’s why I want her battling for us, nobody else, sorry Cambridgeshire, go find your own drum banger.

In my interview with her this week, on the Big Conversation on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, she claimed she would be even handed when it came to decisions that affect both parties and that various safeguards have been put in place.

Well sorry but I don’t want fairness, if a big pot of money is available, I want Peterborough going out, all guns blazing, to try and grab it.

If a huge multi-national company is looking to relocate to the area we want its cash and its jobs here, not somewhere half way down the A14, just because it was their 

There is no room for sentiment in these times of austerity and cuts, it’s every city for itself and we need our best men (and women) on the front line.

Both councils have to save an inordinate amount of money over the next few years and I am sure Gillian will identify ways in which she can do just that, by merging services, identifying different ways of working and trying out new ideas.

My biggest fear though is that this is the thin end of the wedge, the beginning of the end, of Peterborough’s unitary independence.

We start by sharing Chief Executives and before we know it virtually every service that our council offers ends up being run from Shire Hall.

It would not be long before some bright chap from Cambridge decided that it would be cheaper to close up shop completely in the north of the county and consume the budget whilst they were at it.

Peterborough would then once again become the runt of the Shire Hall litter, feeding of the scraps that fall from its master’s table.

We have to trust that Gillian and those that remain at the Town Hall, will endeavour to ensure that scenario does not come to pass.

This city has plenty of critics but it has moved forward in leaps and bounds in recent years and continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the UK.

We need leadership and vision to ensure that continues to be the case.But most of all we need our own voice.

Vive L’independance!