Citizen Power Peterborough

Graeme Clark works for Peterborough City Council on the Citizen Power Initiative. Here is his outline of the progress so far. He talks to Paul Stainton at 08:20 on Monday 6th September 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

PS: Now after months of warnings, the UK’s age of austerity will begin this autumn when the Government announces the results of its spending review. All this week, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, we’re looking at how the county is facing up to those cuts. Jobs lost have roughly been matched by those gained in the city. Both Cambridgeshire Police and NHS Peterborough say considerable pressure is on their respective budgets. And Peterborough City Council’s had its budget cut by three million pounds just this year. But effort is being put in to the Coalition’s attempt to build a Big Society. Citizen Power Peterborough launched about a month ago to get more volunteers to help in the city. This week programme manager Graeme Clark will be putting the first volunteers through their induction. Morning Graeme.
GC: Morning.
PS: How many have come forward then, to build this Big Society that David’s so happy about?
GC: We’ve got about forty who are coming forward through the Civic Commons strand of Citizen’s Power. There are seven strands within the programme. Civic Commons is about bringing local people, and as I said there’s about forty of those, coming forward, for their inductions tomorrow and the day after. Bringing those people together with local civic leaders, Leader of the Council, business leaders, people like this. We’re hoping to get local MPs onside, as well, which would be great news. And we’re working with the Royal Society for the Arts on this one, who are a two hundred and fifty year old think tank. And they’ve got access to a twenty seven thousand plus Fellows network. These are leading thinkers from across the world on a range of different subjects, intitiatives. climate change, immigration, employment, things like that. And they’ll be bringing those people together along with local people, to discuss what local people want to discuss. I think that’s the key thing. It’s about local people driving the agenda at these Civic Commons sessions.
PS: Is it going to be just more than a talking shop, a sort of pretend House of Commons for Peterborough?
GC: If it is just a talking shop I shall resign. (LAUGHTER)
PS: But we’ve got that now.
GC: You’ve heard that here.
PS: And you know what we’re like. We do play clips of people on this show.
GC: Absolutely. I don’t have any problem with that. No,, seriously, it needs to be … it needs to promote action. And the idea very much is that the volunteers will come along. They will be able to improve their knowledge of the decision making process, how they can develop campaigns, how they can really get into the sort of minds of decision makers in the city, and influence those decisions.
PS: Is it going to be any good though? I mean, what can people do? I mean, you can influence whatever you like, but if there’s no money you can’t spoend it.
GC: I agree with that, but I think this programme, Big Society and Citizens Power Peterborough in particular, are very much about innovation, about local people coming up with local solutions to local issues. Who’s best placed to find out what’s going on in Fletton, or Stanground, or Hampton, or wherever it might be in the city is the people who live there. The people who live there know what’s going on. Therefore they are best placed to come up with solutions. And actually help the decision makers understand what’s going on at that level as well.
PS: Is there any guarantee though that these decision makers wherever they be, NHS Peterborough, Peterborough City Council, your local MP, is there any guarantee these decision makers are going to pay a blind bit of notice to Jeff from Paston?
GC: I guess if you want to take Jeff from Paston as an example, then you could say well OK, if they don’t, then from a political point of view, their seat could be on the chopping block, if you like. And we know from the high level within the City Council for example, the Leader’s very very keen on this. He’s committed to this. He will get involved and said that he wants to really see this drive change in the city. So the message is up there from the top, that this is about change.
PS: And how do people get involved? You say you’ve got forty at the moment. Are you looking for more?
GC: If people want to get involved they can give me a ring, 317495, And you know more than happy to talk to anybody who’s interested.
PS: Yeah. And if you want to make your opinion count, if you want to influence the people who make decisions in Peterborough, there’s your opportunity. There’s your excuse to get involved, and get your say, and influence the people who move the wheels and cogs in this city. Thank you for coming in this morning Graeme. Appreciate that.
GC: Thank you.
PS: Graeme Clark Programme Manager for Citizen Power Peterborough. Power to the People!


5 thoughts on “Citizen Power Peterborough”

  1. I started to write a comment but quite honestly the utter rubbish from Graeme Clark does not deserve the time spent.

    It’s a pity that Paul didn’t do a little more research into what is going on with Citizen Power Peterborough.

    Anyone who looks into it would see that they have taken our money now they are taking the p*ss.

  2. Hi Kevin. I run the Citizen Power. From what I see, you clearly haven’t looked into it very deeply, or understand what it consists of. It would be good to meet and discuss.

    Even if you do a basic cost-benefit analysis of Citizen Power Peterborough, using the crude economic measure of investment as your key determinant, Peterborough clearly benefits. Peterborough will receive, at least, four times the amount of money it puts in from external investment (i.e. investment via the RSA and others) which it would not have had. And this is before you take into account the likely long-term benefits of the Citizen Power Peterborough interventions.

    Take for example, the Recovery Capital project. Peterborough has a significant and intractable problem with substance abuse. On some measures, drug-related crime is four times higher in the city than the national average. The Recovery Capital project, based on the latest policy and research analysis into what interventions are most likely to sustain and support people to come off drugs or alcohol, will clearly have both long-term fiscal and social benefits for Peterborough.

    It would be great to meet up with you. You are clearly a passionate guy – this is what all places, Peterborough included, need. Perhaps we could put that passion of yours to good use and have you on board as someone to make sure we deliver. We (the RSA) would not be committing so much time, resource and effort into this long-term partnership if we were just in it for the ride.


  3. Hi Sam
    Thanks for the reply.

    “Peterborough will receive, at least, four times the amount of money it puts in from external investment”

    So what you are saying is that on Peterborough’s accounts there will be an income to PCC of £1m over the next two years. Hard as I have tried I can not find evidence of Marco shouting this from the rooftops and, he’s not exactly slow at coming forward with news like that. I will however check with David Seaton as to where it shows up on this years accounts when next years budget plan is announced. I can feel his irritation already

    Or are you saying that others are also investing in Citizen Power Peterborough to the tune of a sum which is 4 times the amount Peterborough is investing? No surely not that hardly equates to “Peterborough will receive”. If the money does go into Citizen Power Peterborough then Citizen Power Peterborough clearly benefits. Peterborough may benefit but you have given no evidence that Peterborough clearly benefits nor have you said how it will benefit. You appear to think that because you say it will then I’ll believe it will.

    “The Recovery Capital project, based on the latest policy and research analysis into what interventions are most likely to sustain and support people to come off drugs or alcohol, will clearly have both long-term fiscal and social benefits for Peterborough.”
    A most laudable statement but what are the latest policies, who formulated them? What’s their political and socio-economic background; their time at the ‘coalface before having the policy; the percentage of their current working week spent at the ‘coalface’……. What were the research objectives, how were they measured, who verified the objectives and the means of measurement? If I knew what was behind it I would have an idea of whether there will clearly be long-term fiscal and social benefits for Peterborough.
    This is Peterborough, we’re fed a diet of policies which come out in volumes only to be changed next year, next quarter, next month, next week,……. , we never get to know if they actually work. As for the research analysis, PCC’s would have struggled to get a grade 5 CSE (“that’ll be a grade C GCSE then” as Ian Hislop would probably say) in most cases and that only as a result of lenient marking on presentation

    I’m happy to meet up but I’m not passionate I just seek the truth. Such a rare commodity these days and so often confused with opinion.
    I would be happy to join you but can you afford me? Of course if everyone else working on the project is a volunteer then I may be able to find time to do a little voluntary work as well. I would image that talking directly to the person who runs Citizen Power Peterborough is the best way to negotiate a contract.

    I notice on the Citizen Power website you appear to have joined it after writing your comment above one could almost say “you clearly haven’t looked into it very deeply”


  4. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for your reply and email. I look forwarding to meeting you. A blog probably isn’t the place for a detailed discussion – we can have this when we meet up. But just to respond to your points in brief:

    First, you should read the Citizen Power Peterborough, Scoping Report, we published earlier in the year. This will provide you with a lot of the answers to your questions, re benefits, research, policy etc. I will send this to you. But we are producing a lot of work at the moment, across all the strands, which adds to this initial evidence-base.

    Second, the money generated by CPP is directly reinvested in the city through the interventions and projects. CPP is a Peterborough asset. There is no real difference between this and direct investment in the city. CPP is a catalyst for investment, that the city would not have otherwise had.

    Third, I understand your frustration. Like the other people working on the programme, I am first and foremost, a person, who has had similar experiences as you. The sense of unfairness that comes with the feeling and experience of people not having power or control over their lives, is one of the things that drives me and the programme.

    Fourth, I absolutely agree with what you say about the rare commodity of truth. But your statement assumes that there is a truth to be discovered beneath the lies, which isn’t accurate. Furthermore, truth is fine, but unless it leads to action in the city what is the real point of it in this instance.

    Fifth, I re-joined with my new email!

    See you soon.



  5. Hi Sam

    Thanks for your reply above. I await your email to arrange a meeting.

    I take your point about blogs and detailed discussions so I’ll keep my response to your post above brief.

    First, I have read the Scoping Report, it’s on the home page of Citizen power. It didn’t answer most of my questions.
    Your comment “But we are producing a lot of work at the moment..” does worry me. The key factor in any change is work itself not producing work, there is enough to do already.

    Second, I will be able to judge the value of money as a direct investment as opposed to meeting costs when I see the Citizen Accounts, can I assume in the spirit of Citizen Power you will keep an up to date publication of them on the website?

    Third, I want the Citizens to actually have the Power, not sign up to yet another talk shop and be deliberately excluded from meetings on the grounds “we don’t want the usual suspects”

    Fourth, I’m confused about your statement “But your statement assumes that there is a truth to be discovered beneath the lies, which isn’t accurate.” Why is truth to be discovered beneath the lies? The truth is merely a fact I don’t yet know. The truth surely does not have to lead to any action in a particular instance. One truth is rarely enough to understand the whole picture and thereby understand what action is needed. To take action without the truth is never a path I would recommend others to follow.

    I look forward to your email suggesting a date, time and place to meet.



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