Albert Einstein supposedly stated that the definition of madness was repeating the same steps and expecting different results. This maxim came to mind regarding the recent decision to demolish the Northminster Car Park, writes Cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council.
It’s a questionable idea. The removal of the car park will cause much disruption to businesses and residents, especially those dependent upon the market. We shouldn’t handicap them by limiting the ability of people to access this area.
I wonder: why is it that we’ve suddenly found out that the car park isn’t safe? How long has the car park been unsafe for and why was it not checked before? Did we put the public at risk and if so then who is responsible for this? It also begs the question – which other buildings are unsafe and haven’t been checked?
Also: why is there so much haste in knocking the car park down? We should go through the two structural reports very carefully and then consider what would be the best solution.
After all, the car park has been closed and the public is not at risk right now.
Einstein would be shaking his head. We saw a similar debacle with the Rhubarb Bridge; the administration tried to push through a particular decision. Thanks to pressure from the public they had to do U-turn. It’s safe to say that public trust in the administration is very low and therefore we should be even more watchful and concerned.
Apparently, a second report has been carried out by Skanska who is a service provider to the council. We should question their objectivity and independence: as they are a service provider, they may benefit from this decision. There may be nothing wrong with the report; however, a perceived conflict of interest undermines the report’s credibility.
Neither the Labour Group, nor most councillors, have not had sight of both reports. I have requested they be distributed to all councillors before they are made available to the public so that we can go through the documents and ensure their consistency.
Instead, the administration is trying to rush through this decision without proper scrutiny. If there is nothing to hide then why would the administration not allow the decision to be called in, so that it could be properly reviewed?
I think it is only fit and proper that we go through the correct procedure to ensure that we fully understand the situation, scrutinise both reports and make certain that the situation is as is has been stated by the administration. Furthermore, rather than act in haste, the council should be working towards reaching the best solution for residents and local businesses.
To this end, I have written to the council to ask for sight of both reports alongside a deferral of the decision. I hope they will respond positively. After all, given the Rhubarb Bridge fiasco, it would be madness to repeat the same mistakes again, and hope for a better result.