THE ANNUAL PETERBOROUGH TRIBUNE BREXMAS SKETCH
Clearly 2016 will go down in history as the year of BREXIT, but no one really saw it coming. It will also go down as the year the Peterborough City Council looked into the purse and all they could find were a few magic beans (do keep up, this is the panto season...) but still found time to lavish public funding on a clutch of self serving pet projects.
It will also be remembered for the year when the PCC let the slowly decaying Art Deco Broadway Theatre & Cinema slip out of its grasp. It is notable that this time, last year, Peterborough City Centre was rammed packed full with happy visitors and shoppers. Its not so busy now...
The non-stop all media (Bus, radio, tv and billboard) campaigns funded by Producer Bill Kenwright to attract thousands of extra people to Peterborough, to pack the 1,000 seat Broadway Theatre twice a day over his back-to-back three month season of West End musicals and plays.
The advertising campaign also reminded many thousands more - who would never dream of going to the theatre - that Peterborough exists, also as a shopping and entertainment destination.
The additional revenue created for Peterborough retailers, was truly mind bogglingly substantial. No so this year....
Just wait until the end of the current financial year (April 2017) when revenues for the past winter season are compared with the previous years. These new businesses and older mature businesses, are in for a rude financial shock, many will liquidate during the coming months. There are only so many pop-up shops one City can sustain...
But in his wisdom, the current owner of the Broadway, although picking up the newly refurbished theatre as a liquidation distress sale, a good few years back, wants to maximise his profit, and to heck with the loss to this City of a viable and dynamic arts space. It will never return. Hopefully he will have a change of heart and be remembered for his public spirit, patron of the arts even?
Clearly if the PCC acquired the Broadway and offered the operating contract to Bill Kenwright this would be a superb cash generator for many decades to come. But that requires vision, and guts.
The upshot is that a major Cathedral city is seen by the world as only able to support a small provincial 400 seat theatre and a converted sports hall. Big business in considering a wholesale move to a provincial City will look carefully at all the amenities available to its management and workforce. That includes the Arts, Schools and shopping.
Cambridge is going to have a blast, once the Combined Authority, and new Mayor is in place, said to be a Joint Mayor but the Cambridge lobby is all powerful when put up against our fragmented party centric councillors and plucky Independents !
The fact that reduced majority Conservative Stewart Jackson MP is batting so hard for a Conservative Joint Mayor is totally strange and alien, in effect the Joint Mayor will assume many of the tasks the local Member of Parliament was supposed to perform.
However, if the Joint Mayor elected knows little or nothing about Peterborough, and possibly resides in Cambridge; our Stewie had better look out the 'magic' beans, and hope for the best, as his Park Ward residence might just be up for rental sooner than he would like... still there is always the 'rubber chicken' after dinner speaking circuit as a career change for a possibly former MP...
The year will also be remembered for the absolute Horlicks the council made over its outsourcing and information technology requirements.
Before BREXIT the bright sparks at PCC IT Dept ( the main architect of this, has now resigned and moved on to a plumb IT job elsewhere) decided that 'cloud' based computing is the way forward foer the council but also decided it put it ,and all our personal data on Amazon Web Services (AWS) located just outside Las Vegas. The CIA is also a client of AWS.
Post Brexit and Pre-Trump is the perfect storm the PCC is locked into a US multi-million dollar commitment for decades to come!
Finally, we see PCC panto villain, the recently convicted Cllr Hiller is (ha ha) chair of the PCC Honours Committee (how can this be !!) and about to confer the Freedom of the City on none other that former care home owner and Tory Agent Sheila Scott, one time holder of the poorly rated PCC Childrens Services portfolio and in keeping with dire, performing one of the worlds all time car crash radio interviews - now used as a training aid for aspiring broadcasters...
Sheila has a problem because several people are now on her case, over Election Expenses, for the upcoming May 2017 local elections. In past years, its alleged by some, the strictly set and capped election budgets have been how should we say 'fudged'.
But hopefully not this year, as a team of forensic accountants are apparently 'pro-bono' on the case, and using South Stanground as a one of the financial investigation points.... so fun times ahead.
But if all this is way too depressing, book some panto tickets, as some of your local councillors are featured in the scripts. Both the Key and the Cresset have productions running. The odd one off amateur concert is offered by the Broadway.
Our thanks to many supporters - who really write the majority of this blog - we'll be here, with another corker of a year to come.
Merry Christmas to you all and our very best wishes for any other festive celebrations you may be enjoying.
Editor Peterborough Tribune
PS: We could not sign off without a BIG shout out to our award winning crime, fraud and investigation legal team at Bindman & Company headed by Partner Mike Schwartz.
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