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Thursday, June 16, 2016


Planning Committee surveys Cathedral Walk 


Conservatives on the Peterborough City Council Planning Committee have this week plunged to new depths of incredulity, seemingly with the collusion of Barclays Bank, Peterborough Branch and publicly branded innocent cyclists and others who enjoy the City early evening and 'vibrant' night economy, i.e. those who dare venture into the Peterborough City Centre 'after business hours' as 'law breakers' as recently elected / re-elected councillors have (as seems to be a regular occurrence) again ignored PCC planning officers advice to keep a long standing cycle and footpath - Cathedral Walk  - next to Barclays Bank, and owned by the bank, open.

It would have been part of the original commercial lease to maintain and keep the important Cathedral Walk open, secure and fully maintained. 

A professional planning agent parachuted in for Barclays Bank,  beguiled the committee saying: “What we proposed is a compromise, not a full closure, so Guildhall Walk will be open during the day when law-abiding citizens, [Barclays Bank customers] and pedestrians can use it.”

Councillors on the council’s planning committee however marginally extended the barrier opening hours with access allowed between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 5pm on Sunday.

Effectively closing down easy access to the city centre and adjacent restaurants and bars after 6pm. Also the Bankers seem to overlook that someone from Barclays will have to physically act as gatekeeper on Sundays to ensure no one is imprisoned inside the now closed and barred walkway for any extended period of time.  More importantly, It will also impede motorcycle paramedic rapid access to the City Centre along with all other emergency services.

The bank, is situated next to what the Bank considers to be a problem area, but on close examination a Pizza Express appears to be on site and the newish Bills Café, owned by a chum of BHS Sir Philip Green on the other side. This highlights the failure of council enforcement services to combat incidents of defecation, urination, drug use, discarded needles, and homeless rough sleeping  'were making it unpleasant for their staff coming to work'. TO say nothing of Peterborough citizens generally, why was the Bank not properly maintaining their property?

A condition of the planning now requires the front gate/barrier which faces Cathedral Square to be re-designed into a solid-panelled fence. Effectively making it look like another boarded up Bridge Street property.

Addressing the committee on Tuesday Barclays Planning Agent Tom Lambshead, (Sorry it has to be done: "Oi, where's me lambs head? Four foot from its tail!" Apologies to the late Lonnie Donnigan)  for the application, said: “Bank staff have had to clean up mess which is not only unpleasant, but dangerous.

This is rubbish of course, the bank (not currently short of a bob or two) would employ specialist security and cleaning contractors to maintain their property, not cashiers on the tills....but the councillors swallowed all this guff.  

The police have offered their full support for the application." But to stop the urinating, drug taking and general naughtiness, kindly phone police on the premium phone line .... 

“Closing off the alleyway (ie Cathedral Walk - err explain alleyway) outside office hours will not see people suddenly use their cars. The bank is offering a compromise solution.” Now if you know Cathedral Walk, it really isn't designed for cars. What on earth are they thinking?

Mr Lambshead also wondered why cycling should be allowed down the alleyway, when it was banned down nearby Bridge Street due to the risk to pedestrians. Mr Lambshead clearly wishing to cut down the number of pedestrians in the much vaunted public realm City Centre. And we though that some cycling was still allowed down Bridge Street during the very hours the Cathedral Walk will be closed and shuttered? To be precise in Bridge Street its NO cycling between 9 am to 6 pm, so at a stroke  even if you lawfully bike up Bridge Street, Cathedral Walk is closed.  Just remember  Barclays (and other bankers) will only offer you an umbrella when its stopped raining!

He also said the extra walk to bypass Cathedral Walk would take an estimated extra two minutes !!!! Not if you are physically impared Mr Lambshead, shame on you...

Graham Martin, from Barclays, said: “For a number of years there has been minor and major anti-social behaviour. I can honestly say the last 18 months have been horrendous for staff and the public using Guildhall Walk - there’s been threatening behaviour, foul and abusive behaviour, food rubbish from nearby restaurants, needles.
Clearly these are not planning issues has Mr Martin taken up the issues with council departments? If so where is the evidence?

He also claimed the extra walk to bypass Guildhall Walk would just take an estimated extra two minutes. The Barclays man however failed to consider that disabled citizens - possibly Barclays customers - either on foot or riding mobility trikes would also be denied access to the City Centre 'after business hours'.

Loyal readers will recall the wholesale removal of disability parking bays to accommodate the legions of electric vehicles expected by the last regime. And Marcos idea of putting shutters on the Arcade......  

The application of course highlights the closure of Council owned public conveniences in the area (The former WC's now house the 'Cereste memorial fountains' sump tank)  

Mr Lambshead then laid into the alleged conduct of Peterborough citizens continued: “The worst thing to have to face is the area’s been used as a public toilet. Even during the day a member of the public was urinating in broad daylight but then contradicted himself by saying:  “What we proposed is a compromise, not a full closure, so Guildhall Walk will be open during the day when law-abiding citizens and pedestrians can use it.”

There were a number of objections, also the council’s planning officers had recommended that the application be refused, claiming that the problems could be resolved without a new fence. (A sprinkler system perhaps?)

However, most councillors sided with Barclays, with Cllr Peter Hiller saying: “You have my sympathy, it’s a bank you run not a public toilet.” No Cllr Hiller, 'bogs' are your concern, the council closed down the public toilets in the area, as a cost cutting measure.

However, like many others he hit out at the current fence which he said “looks like an open prison.” Some may say Cllr Hiller should know, Peter Hiller having been recently convicted and heavily fined for key scoring a car in a B&Q car park.

The opening hours originally proposed by Barclays, would have seen Cathedral walk TOTALLY closed on Sundays and from 3pm on Saturdays. Why not just go the whole hog and just empty the City centre?

 Cllr Chris Harper, who for many years was an electrician, possibly changing light bulbs with a banking group, before setting up as a roofer (that part missing from his official biog), like Cllr Hiller are members of the Conservative group, naturally you may think sympathised with Bankers - Barclays. Cllr Harper (aka waggishly known as Cllr Turnip) said it was “dead wrong” that the alleyway is used as a toilet,  and he highlighted the money wasted on improving the city centre, which by closing Cathedral Walk, few will now see the gaily night-time illuminated dancing fountains .... yes... 

He added: “I think we have a duty to protect the area and the public.”  Cllr Harpers idea is seemingly to set the public realm in aspic, and cut back on protective council services, after all they cannot even get simple matters like cutting grass right!  As for the homeless rough sleepers? They according to Cllr Murphy having 'limited education' will probably vote BREXIT, but there again the white caravan owning Cllr Turnip is said to be voting "Remain" so that is also "dead wrong". You really could not make this up.

Our solution: Why not offer Barclays a Bridge Street unit, and turn the existing site into a Bar/restaurant opening up Cathedral Walk as an alfresco dining area? Just as the Alpha Lounge has done. Too simple. Order up the Aspic... and a red balloon.


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