On Friday the Leader of Peterborough City Council expressed his hopes that money could be found for many major projects to improve Peterborough, including the redevelopment of the football stadium. Posh supporters say this is an urgent need, but Independent councillor Charles Swift says we must face up to the reality of the financial situation. These interviews were broadcast at 07:15 on Monday 21st June 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: Now on the show this morning we’re taking a closer look at the new vision for Peterborough. Leter we’ll be discussing the new plans for the city centre, first though, the South Bank area and London Road. On Friday Leader of Peterborough City Council Marco Cereste announced his intentions to start rebuilding the London Road ground with improved facilities. This is what he had to say. (TAPE)
CERESTE: One of the stands at the football ground, we’ve got some .. we actually showed the visuals the other day. We’ve got money to fund that.
STAINTON: You’re going to start that from the ground up? You’re going to rebuild the whole stand, aren’t you?
CERESTE: We are yes. We’re going to rebuild each stand, one at a time, with different facilities all the way round it.
STAINTON: Which one are you going to start with? Moyes End?
CERESTE: I think it’s called the Moyes End.
STAINTON: Yes. On London Road?
CERESTE: Yes. Yes. I think it’s called the Moyes End. The money’s in place. The visuals looked really really nice. It’s going to be a training centre, skills and training centre for our, you know, for the people of this city, which is going to be a fantastic facility. But it will also act as a facility that will act as a stand for the football games when they occur.
STAINTON: When’s it going to start, Marco?
CERESTE: Well you know again it’s really we’re close. We you know this is not twenty years away. This is within the next twelve months. That will start too I anticipate. We’ve got people literally champing at the bit to come in now and start ..
PAUL: Well that’s what Marco Cereste Leader of Peterborough City Council said on the show last week. With us Barry Bennett from the Posh Supporters’ Trust. Morning Barry.
BARRY: Good morning Paul.
PAUL: From a Posh fan’s point of view that sounds very exciting, especially if it’s going to start in the next twelve months or so.
BARRY: Yes it’s fantastic news and I share his enthusiasm and I hope it all takes place. I’m anxious to see the visuals that Marco referred to, because we are currently waiting for a blueprint of the whole stadium, not just one stand. And I think it’s important we have a blueprint for the whole stadium first, before we get too excited about individual stands. But the fact that it is happening is great news yes.
PAUL: You don’t want piecemeal building, which you get at some stadiums.
BARRY: No not at all. We spoke to Richard Hidgson who’s the Head of Peterborough City Council Head of Strategic Projects, and he promised us around this time that there should be a blueprint for the whole stadium. So we’re anxious to see that. And I hope that that’s probably what Marco is referring to individuals. But we wait with baited breath. He was a little bit hesitant on, shouldn’t take twenty years, maybe within the next twelve months. But I think things should be a little bit more urgent than that in respect of we need a stadium, and we need one pretty quick.
PAUL: But that sort of stadium, with a community feel and businesses around it, is what we want, isn’t it?
BARRY: Absolutely. The Posh Supporters’ Trust have always advocated that a community stadium is what we want, and we support that one hundred and ten per cent. Our biggest fear is that the current stadium is in a state of disrepair, and there are some urgent repairs needed, certainly to the toilet facilities and the catering facilities in the older stands. And on current progress my fear is this could drag on for ten years, because whilst we have somebody interested, I believe, in the Moyes End understand facility, which will facilitate the building of the stand, that’s taken a while now, and it’s probably not likely to start within the next twelve months. I don’t think there’s any plans actually to start it this year, which is disappointing, because we’re anxious to get back into the Championship next year, and we need the facility.
PAUL: Also listening to that was Charles Swift, Independent councillor in Peterborough. Morning Charles.
CHARLES: Good morning.
PAUL: It all sounds very good, very exciting. Is it possible though in this current climate?
CHARLES: I wish Marco all the luck in the world but I think we’re living in cloud-cuckoo land, I do honestly, and I’ve hear it all, I’ve seen it all, but .. and I wish once in my lifetime I could be proved wrong, but listening to the gentleman from Peterborough United, there’s fifty per cent less people go to football matches now with a hundred thousand more population than what there was fifty years ago. And you’ve got to be realistic about this. I’ve got in front of me the Rail News, which I get every week. There’s going to be a five billion pound cut in the expenditure given to the railway, and the railway chief has warned that a lot of these major projects will never get off the ground. So Network Rail aren’t going to do anything in Peterbroough. You’ve got the Northminster shopping area. Well I don’t think anybody’s taken into account the fact that twenty per cent of our population now are of an ethnic origin, and Eastern European. Now they’re building shops all over New England and Millfield. They’re springing up like mushrooms with their own products. Like the city centre with nightclubs, the people that are coming in. Nobody’s took any notice of the increased population that we’ve got and the diversities that there are within the population. And we’re going to have a rate freeze next year by the Government, they’re going to announce. So there’s going to be no money coming. And it’s .. we’re in a totally different ball-game than when in nineteen sixty eight we formed the Peterborough Development Corporation, when we had a blank cheque from the Government to spend money left, right and centre. I think Marco’s doing a fabulous job trying, but I’ve got that horrible feeling it’ll all fall round our ears. We’ve got the garden centre going to open in a few weeks time, well it’s open but the Duchess of Timbuctoo’s coming to open it, isn’t she? And that took eight years to plan that damn thing, with income from the garden centre of five hundred thousand pounds and one oh six agreements and planning permission, and four hundred thousand pounds capital gains tax. Now that’s the way we treated that garden centre to get them to come into Peterborough. And I think we’re pie in the sky. I don’t think we stand a cat in hell’s chance with half of them. But I do believe that the Leader of the Council is doing his best to try to stimulate. But on top of that all we’re getting is a low wage earning economy, with all these places springing up like mushrooms, these warehouses, so where’s all the .. There’s the people now that are getting council properties, they’re having to rely on income coming in from benefits. I get carried away, but I think we’re in a cloud-cuckoo land.
PAUL: Yes. It’s a very difficult climate to raise public money certainly, and private money at the moment. He also mentioned getting rid of Bourges Boulevard, improving the Station Quarter. You’re saying really, realistically, that’s not going to happen.
CHARLES: There’s not a cat in hell’s chance, no.
PAUL: Charles Swift, Independent councillor for Peterbororough. And before that you heard from Barry Bennett from the Posh Independent Supports’ Trust. .. It’s all very well isn’t it, talking these things up and saying this is going to happen, and that’s going to happen. Wouldn’t it be great. But can it be done?