Millionaire businessman reveals radical plan for Peterborough if elected mayor

Bins driving themselves to the dump, shuttle buses roaming through the city, councillors stripped of their powers and residents voting on how their money is spent - welcome to the radical world of Peter Dawe, millionaire entrepreneur and mayoral candidate for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.

Sunday, 18th December 2016, 6:00 am
Peter Dawe

A successful businessman attempting to take on the establishment is hardly original in 2016, but Mr Dawe has a CV that even The Donald would be impressed by.

The first person to provide the internet to living rooms in Europe back in the early 1990s, Mr Dawe has also been awarded an OBE for tackling online child porn, believes that the EU is “evil,” and wants to replace the minimum wage with a citizen’s wage - a guaranteed income for all people.

A former UKIP member now standing as an independent, a founder of more than 80 companies, and a campaigner who says he gave homeless people jobs and a roof to sleep under, Mr Dawe is vying to be the county’s first ever elected mayor next May.

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He aims to fight off established political figures to head a new combined authority with leaders from all seven Cambridgeshire councils, as well as a representative from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership.

Sitting down with the Peterborough Telegraph for more than two hours last week Mr Dawe, who recently sold Cambridge TV, described his vision for a radical overhaul of transport across the county.

“When I look at cities around the world that don’t have regulation, most of them operate on shuttle minibuses. These are vehicles that take eight to 15 people, and all they do is go between A and B all day,” he said.

“With a minibus with eight people you get frequency, you get the comfort.

“But let’s go one step further and say why can’t the shuttle minibuses drop you off at your door and pick you up at the door? You have an app. You say, ‘I’m going into the city centre’. The app comes back and says, ‘I’m picking up in your area, be outside the door at 11.23’ and bang you’re in. The eventual transition of course is that these minibuses don’t have a driver.”

Mr Dawe admitted he “really dislikes” being on a bus, and he wants to encourage car sharing and the use of electric bikes, which could be funded by the combined authority.

All that would be in the first term. Looking to the next decade, he asks: “Why can’t the bins, when they’re full, drive themselves to the dump? You haven’t got to worry about people stealing the contents have you?”

And then there are drones - “When you say you’re home, or your phone says you’re home, the little three-wheel drone trundles down your street and bleeps you saying ‘I’m outside your front door’.

“You put the code on the drone, open it up, and take your goods out.”

Mr Dawe, of Ely, is now looking for a Peterborough co-mayor to join him if he gets elected. He has previously admitted he is “weak on the special nature of Peterborough” but hopes to rectify that by hiring a non-politician to work alongside him.

“We have a couple of candidates but I’d like more,” he added.

The PT will be interviewing other candidates in the mayoral election as they are chosen by their parties or announce their candidacy.

‘You are smarter than the councillors’

Ely businessman Peter Dawe hopes to pioneer ‘digital democracy’ if elected as mayor of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.

Under a Dawe mayoralty we would get to vote online on how our money is distributed, with the combined authority having millions to spend on transport and housing.

This would clampdown on what Mr Dawe sees as the undue influence of lobbying and special interests on policies.

“People in the street are so smart,” he said. “We could actually have a vote and say, ‘how much do you want to spend on gritting roads?’ and determine spending levels by that.

“It’s got to be an experiment. The great thing is the technology’s there. Over time we will engage more and more people to do it. And later on it gets even more exciting because why should it be the politicians and mayor that ask the questions?

“My hope is, if we demonstrate this digital democracy, it will be adopted in ever bolder circles.”

He added: “The combined intelligence of the electorate is greater than the councillors.”

Mr Dawe stood unsuccessfully for UKIP in East Cambridgeshire District Council elections in 2013, but resigned his party membership once Britain voted to leave the European Union.

The entrepreneur, who described the EU as “evil,” said: “I just see Brussels as a corrupt cesspit of self-interest and self-aggrandizing of the worst sort of politicians.”

He claimed that toilet paper is no longer as strong as it used to be because of EU regulations (on the back of lobbying by manufacturers) so people have to buy more of it.

Peter Dawe in quotes

On councils - “The best talent will tend to give local government a try for one or two turns, then think ‘nah, I can actually change the world easily from the outside’.”

On the Bridge Street cycling ban - “Redesign the street so cyclists can use it and pedestrians.

“By all means have some traffic lights for the cyclists to make sure the pedestrians get over safely if the level of traffic is that high, but bear in mind we get away with it in Cambridge.”

On the widening of the A14 - “It’s just a bigger car park. It’s not the A14 that’s the bottleneck, it’s the junctions.”

On solving the lack of temporary accommodation in the city - “I would go up to Skegness and drag caravans down to Wittering airfield or somewhere.”

On replacing the minimum wage - “I have lobbied long and hard that everyone should have a citizen wage which is pretty meagre -a roof over your head, pillows on your back, food in your belly and a TV licence.

“There are people out there who cannot add £7 an hour value through no fault of their own.”