Scarce Funds Squandered On Vain Posturing

dandies08:20 Wednesday 24th April 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Creating the UK’s Environment Capital. (MUSIC: THIS IS A SIGN OF THE TIMES) That’s the claim made by Peterborough City Council. A series of new signs that are popping up around the city’s boundaries. The Council are spending three thousand pounds replacing the Welcome signs and posts. The current ones have apparently reached the end of their natural. But are they wasting a stack of cash, and is the slogan just a little bit premature? Well Councillor Darren Fower is the LibDem councillor for South Werrington and North Gunthorpe. Morning.
DARREN FOWER: Morning sir.
PAUL STAINTON: Would you like a nice three thousand pound sign on your front lawn?
DARREN FOWER: Oh yes. What a great idea this one is. The latest one out of the Council machine.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it not nice to trumpet what the city is doing?
DARREN FOWER: Yes, if they were doing something, that would be useful to mention, obviously through the media, like your good selves, or the local newspaper. But this idea of building and making new signs and driving round the city to install them, I’m not really sure that ticks the environment box.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. They don’t welcome people to the city any more either, do they? They’re rude, I think.
DARREN FOWER: I think it’s been like that for a few years now, to be honest with you. Obviously you’ve got to have certain signs up on the roads, but I think you’ve got to be accurate in the information that’s provided, and quite simply I think this latest effort is a PR stunt.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s the point in it? Why do we need signs? Why do we need to spend this money? And environment capital, working to become the UK’s environment capital, what does that mean?
DARREN FOWER: That is a very good question, and one that I’m completely incapable of answering. You’ve got cities like Leicester, they’re apparently the environment city. We’re the environment capital. We’re being told constantly that we’re the environment capital. Down the road you’ve got Cambridge, who if you travel down there and spend some time you see lots of people using their bikes and being environmentally friendly. But they don’t seem to need to be told that they are.
PAUL STAINTON: There’s a big survey on bikes out today, isn’t there? I know Andy Harper’s talking about cycling later, and it is a big topic, a big agenda at the moment. Could we do more? Should we spend this money on that then? Three thousand pounds on encouraging more cycling.
DARREN FOWER: Well I think given the tight budget the Council’s got, and the disappointing action that they’ve taken in the recent months in regard to service provision being reduced significantly, I think they should be a little bit more sensible with the money that they do have. It is, as far as I can see, nothing short of a PR stunt, along the lines of their generation of a newspaper, a sort of magazine they have, this Your Peterborough, which their own government says is a rubbish idea, no need to do it. But they continue to do it. So they spend lots of money on that as well.
PAUL STAINTON: Well what signage would you have on the outskirts of Peterborough as people come in and out of the city boundaries? What would the LibDems have up there?
DARREN FOWER: Well obviously we’d have the bird of freedom massively portrayed on the sign, and saying Welcome to Peterborough. But that’s what it needs to be. It just needs to be welcome to Peterborough. It just needs to be simple, because it is for drivers, and one thing you don’t want to do when you’re driving is read a lot.
PAUL STAINTON: Well that’s LibDem councillor Darren Fower, annoyed, saying it’s a waste of money, three thousand pounds for signs saying creating the Uk’s environment capital on the outskirts of Peterborough. Pretty unhappy as well with the magazine that Peterborough City Council produce called Your Peterborough. A spokesman for the Council said : “We are committed to improving the city’s environment credentials as part of our aspiration to be the Uk’s environment capital. Peterborough is becoming well known for its environmental focus, and the new signs are a great way to further this awareness with residents of the city and visitors. Our environmental focus also attracts investment to Peterbroough and there’s a growing number of environmental businesses based in the city that are creating jobs and contributing to the economy.”