Tackling Inequalities? Some may say not Peterborough.

Tonight I went to the full council meeting about the proposed developments at the Peterborough United Football Club. Big money being spent on making the club more up to date, building a skills centre for young people and putting in seats in case the club ever get into the Premiership. Lovely jubbly. Sparkly ‘new’ club, an asset to Peterborough. Peterborough taxpayers love sparkly new things it seems. Yay!

Now don’t get me wrong. I love sparkly things. And I’m not fussed about a budget that’s not destined for playcentres or buses being spent on improving an alternative community asset. I understand about budgets, I understand that the big pot of money wouldn’t have been spent on playcentres or bus services. But can I tell you what has disappointed me, in fact it’s upset me to be honest but then maybe it’s because being poor, and having a disabled child makes you take things to heart just that little bit more than usual.

Throughout the meeting, the footy club was repeatedly regarded by Councillors from all ‘sides’ as a “Community Asset”. That they are not ‘just’ a business but how they do so much for the community and for the kids of Peterborough. Well flippedy doo dah, give them a medal. Don’t acknowledge that they should be giving back to the community as part of their corporate social responsibility, or that they most likely apply/get funding to support them with this community work. Just put them on a pedestal to support why this financial resource must be approved. It’s a community asset so of course we must improve their facilities, we don’t want to lose them out of town. We need them.

Indeed we do. But let me tell you what gets my goat. We need organisations such as The Inspirations Studio, a great drop in resource for kids, providing a space for young people to meet and come together to improve their skills, their social abilities and encourage them to become positive role models for their peers and valuable citizens that can guide and make change in their communities and the City as a whole. We need organisations such as CCORRN Community Repaint, who provide low cost paint to all residents and businesses in the City, making it possible even in this time of austerity for anyone to make their homes just a little bit nicer to live in. We need people such as Family Voice Peterborough, a hardworking group of volunteers, all parents of children with special needs, and let’s be honest, have enough on their plates as it is.

Inspirations Studio and CCORRN are currently temporarily housed in a disused shop, the old Hawkins Bazaar just along from the Town Hall and the ‘contract’ is up *I think* about Oct/Nov time. No doubt they’ll be moved along like a traveller encampment to yet another temporary location, with another temporary contract. But the Youth and the poor are not temporary, like a season in the Premiership could be. What about their facilities? Their future? Their security?

Family Voice Peterborough are absolute Heroes in my eyes. Not only do they have busy lives contending with making sure their own children are getting the education, health and social care their children are entitled to (and many times they have to fight for services and help believe me) but they also fund-raise, run training courses for other parents and put events on for children with additional needs. If these people spend a Saturday afternoon kicking a football around a pitch, they are probably doing it in fancy dress to raise money for their cause.

These are “Community Assets” we should be supporting, funding and keeping in Peterborough in my opinion.

Moving on…

Well, goodness me. Because the club and council were not coming to an arrangement they could both agree on, POSH have been with-holding the rent since June 2012? I don’t recall anything in the news about them being taken to court and evicted. But don’t pay the bedroom tax or the council tax supplement and it’s a day out at the Magistrate’s Court for me and the majority of people living in poverty!

Now please don’t get me wrong, in the background Cllr Cereste and many others in the council are doing a great deal to improve the lives of people in poverty. I know because I am trying to help them. There will be some fantastic initiatives to help people out of poverty and into employment and/or training so please don’t knock him on only what you see online or in the media. Instead, ask questions.. educate yourselves.. make your views known.. your ideas heard and get involved. We need transparency and clarity. We need to be given more information.. about where money for projects is coming from and where it goes to.. about why projects cannot be funded.. we should hear from every Councillor why they vote how they do. We should be able to openly question decisions and we should have a forum where we can respectfully, on both sides debate, acknowledge and appreciate what we do as a community. Knowledge is power.. for everyone.

It’s not that we don’t want a football ground Councillors, just a level playing field.